Tag Archives: Part II Bistro

Ladies on Leave – or LOL – create a weekend getaway in Huron County

22 Oct
Ladies on Leave (LOL) find a weekend getaway in their own backyard.

Ladies on Leave (LOL) find a weekend getaway in their own backyard.

By Guest Diva Darlene Empey 

Eight ladies set out on their annual Mystery Tour get away recently (Sept 11, 12 & 13). The theme of the weekend is to see some things we haven’t seen, participate in some new activities and, generally, just have a nice three-day weekend away.

This year the planner (me) wanted to discover or rediscover attractions in our “own backyard”. Only the planners know where the tour is taking the group, making the element of surprise part of the fun.

We started out in Goderich and here’s what we did:

Sometimes fun comes in the simple things - like mini-golf.

Sometimes fun comes in the simple things – like mini-golf.

First stop, Jillian Walden opened her at-home studio to us, for an hour of simple yoga poses, healthy eating tips (plus a healthy drink and snack) and advice on a host of topics raised by our 50/60-something group.

Jillian energized us for our busy day ahead.

Next we went to the Huron County Museum. It is amazing how much local history is contained here. Most of us had not been to this museum for years, we won’t say how many, but, suffice it to say that the two-headed calf was my most vivid memory.

By the time we were finished at the museum we were hungry. Pat and Kevin’s, on Court House Square,welcomed us for lunch. Everything was ample and delicious, and we all had a complimentary side of Mayor Kevin’s wit.

We then went to the Huron Historic Gaol. Again, a great history lesson and a sobering glimpse into the past.

I have lived in Huron County all my life and had never visited the gaol.

Now, to add a little culture, we visited Sharon Johnston who gave us a lesson playing the harp. Sharon patiently introduced us to an instrument that sounds beautiful no matter what you play, and, even if I do say so myself, our rendition of Three Blind Mice sounded pretty good. But, it paled in comparison to the solo Sharon played for us that sent musical shivers down my spine.

We dined at Beach Street Station, in its private room; the food, service and the view were delectable.

Off to Samuels, in Saltford, where we stayed for the night…beautiful rooms, cheery staff, nice continental breakfast and complimentary cupcakes!

Saturday morning we headed to the beach to see the newest attraction in Goderich. The Inuksuk display is impressive and a monument to the community spirit within Goderich, “Pretty Strong Town”.

We picked up our deli sandwich lunch at Shanahan’s, on the Square, and headed north on 21 to do something we hadn’t done for years….we played mini-golf at Point Farms Market.

Then we visited Susanne and Bill Robinson, at Robinson’s Maple Products. We sampled maple butter, fresh from the spout and toured the facility. This family operation has grown from a maple bush, supplying the neighbourhood with maple syrup, into a business providing dozens of maple products locally and internationally. It was clear from our visit that their secret ingredient is “passion”.

A tour of Blyth Farm Cheese was one of the weekend highlights.

A tour of Blyth Farm Cheese was one of the weekend highlights.

Next stop was Blyth Farm Cheese. Most of us didn’t even know that this award winning cheese plant existed just outside of Blyth. Paul VanDorp gave us a tour of the facility and explained the art of cheese making, the regulations and what he was planning for the future. But, of course, the best part was the sampling. We tasted several varieties of cheese and they were all amazing; my favourite was the “Drunken Goat”.

So, now we were tired and looking for a place to put our feet up. In Blyth? On the Threshers weekend? Yes, indeed. We stayed above the Queen’s Bakery, a lovely, spacious getaway, with a fully equipped kitchen and living room area.

Fine dining is always one of the highlights of our weekend (because we don’t have to cook). Just a few steps from the bakery we enjoyed a fabulous dinner at Part II Bistro, including the chef’s complimentary appetizer.

Then, right across the street, we took in the final performance of the Blyth Festival season; the touching story behind “Mary’s Wedding”.

Sunday morning, we enjoyed not getting up too early and nibbling on the fruit, cheese, muffins and cherry loaf put together for us by Scrimgeour’s Food Market in Blyth.

On the last day of our LOL weekend, we headed off to Brussels. We are kind of worn out by this time, but no worries. Kathy McNeil Nichol and her staff at Solace Spa opened the doors at their beautiful historic location to welcome our group. We spent most of the day being pampered with pedicures, massages and reiki. It was a lovely, relaxing day, including lunch from the Jam Jar.

By the end of our weekend we were all impressed, and maybe a little surprised, to discover and rediscover all the things to do and see in Huron County within such short distances of home (and we barely scratched the surface). Talent, art, history, fine dining, accommodations and successful businesses, all just waiting for you to experience them, right in your own back yard.

Thanks to all the people & businesses that made this a great weekend for us!


Party in Bayfield has decidedly local flavour

26 Sep

foodcharter1By Diva Heather Boa
BAYFIELD – Five one-ounce plastic containers of wine huddled on a paper plate. Each held a taste of wine made from grapes grown right here in Huron County, at Maelstrom Winery.

foodcharter3I started with the Frontenac Blanc, worked through the Chardonnay and then moved on to the reds. There was Pinot Noir and Tempest. And, finally, Marquette, a big and bold red that happily chased down a pastry from Cait’s Kitchen filled with thin slices of pepperoni from Metzger’s Meat Products and a creamy jalapeno cheese from Blyth Cheese Farm. Beside me, a local criminal lawyer sampled a Prison Break Pilsner brewed in Guelph. On my other side, a friend sipped on a glass of Pinot Noir, her favourite from the Flight of Wine.

Clusters of people filled the cabaret-style setting, while in the background, The Blacklist Social, a local band, comfortably sprinkled original songs between a strong playbill of folk and rock music.

The Food Charter Launch Party at the Bayfield Town Hall on Sept. 26, organized by the Huron Food Action Network, had a decidedly local flavour.

foodcharter15According to its literature, the network has a mission of cultivating a sustainable, local food system to nourish all people of Huron County and beyond.

“Huron county is not only beautiful in its appearance but in its abundance,” said Nathan Swartz, who is the network’s food system co-ordinator. He said its rich soil produces an abundance of food.

As part of the launch party, the network handed out awards to what it calls Food Heroes.

“Superheroes do things we wish we could do. Perhaps more importantly, things we should be doing,” Swartz said. “We can’t depend on government and massive corporations to protect our food so it’s up to us and local food heroes.”

Award winners were: Red Cat Farm, north of Goderich on Hwy. 21; Bayfield Berry Farm, just east of Bayfield on Orchard Line; Part II Bistro of Blyth; and Maelstrom Winery, just east of Clinton on Sanctuary Line.

While I wholeheartedly support the network’s efforts, for me it was also a great evening out with friends in celebration of local food, drink and music.

Its next event should be a sold out affair. Watch for it.


Maybe I lost a bet or something, but I did also promise to publicly proclaim Caitlin Vail of Cait’s Kitchen as Croissant Queen of Goderich. There you go.

Psychic medium stirs up the past in dinner at Part II Bistro

23 Apr
Medium Kelly Elston reads the crowd at Part II Bistro.

Psychic medium Kelly Elson reads the crowd of women gathered at Part II Bistro in Blyth. Photos courtesy of Darlene McCowan Photographer.

heather boaBy Diva Heather Boa

BLYTH – Tonight I heard from my dad and my grandmother, which is weird because they’ve both been dead for more than a decade.

As generally happens when family gets together, they wanted to talk about the people we have in common – my aunts and uncles, my mom and my two brothers – and pass on a few hellos. The messages played out kind of like a cross between 20 questions and charades, as they communicated through Goderich psychic medium Kelly Elson during a group reading held at Part II Bistro in Blyth.

From what I gather, Dad showed her a symbol that looks like the Roman numeral II, which in the language of the dead (my words, not hers) can mean he’s trying to talk about twins, someone who is a Gemini, somebody’s birthday, or the parallel of two things falling close together. After more questions, it was possible that something happened on a holiday, or two somethings happened on two holidays.


My father was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer on Labour Day weekend in 1999. And he died on Victoria Day weekend in 2000.

She also said he kept coming back to a Canada flag.

kelly peek 2What I didn’t tell the medium was that my dad made a stained glass maple leaf set into a stepping stone, which was donated as the centre piece for the IODE Maple Leaf chapter’s public garden in Goderich. After he died, someone stole that stepping stone.

She asked too if lily of the valley, those delicate white flowers found in the woods, mean anything to me because dad kept pulling up handfuls of them.

Maybe a bingo.

Flowers were one of my dad’s many passions. He loved trilliums, jack-in-the-pulpits and ferns from the forests, so he probably liked lily of the valley too. I don’t know for sure.

Kelly made her way around the room, telling the women gathered for this dinner what she saw – someone named John who smelled like a woodstove, about a hundred people gathered to pass on their thanks to a nurse, a father-in-law whose image appeared in black and white to signify he’s been gone for awhile, a grandmother holding a child in a pink blanket, a woman in an intense game of poker, and the images just keep coming.

The accuracy of some of her statements was quite astounding. There was instant intimacy in a room full of strangers and some of what was said should stay within the confines of that dining room.

Peter and Sarah Gusso, of Part II Bistro, were wonderful hosts, setting up the dining room in long rows of tables so that clusters of friends sat alongside strangers for the evening. The three-course meal included: spinach and bosc pear salad, with gourmet trail mix, Blyth spiced goat cheese and a maple-citrus-mustard vinaigrette; pineapple chicken atop a bed of coconut rice with volcano rice, all topped with a fresh salsa; brownies with coulis, plus a table tray of lemon tarts, coffee cakes and strudels.

Part II Bistro has a schedule of wine, Scotch or beer tastings, live music and other events. Check them out on Facebook or online.

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

24 Feb


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



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 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).


Huron Adventures

26 Jun

By Diva Melody Hodgson

Living in Huron County, the love and pride felt by the residents is evident in even the simplest of conversations.  Pride in their land, homes, the bounty of all the area has to offer; love of their relationships, workplaces and the general feeling of community partnership and support.  Many of us are fortunate to share at least one, if not all of these sentiments.  Rarely, however, do we get to combine them all and create a work environment that embodies everything we love.  Welcome to Huron Adventures Inc.  (On Twitter)

The brainchild of Genny Smith, Huron Adventures Inc. packages the best of what Huron County has to offer and curates a tailored experience for each of their clients.  Genny, along with Heather Boa (Communications), Craig Sinclair (Graphic Design), and Angela Smith (Photography), have taken their shared love of Huron County and created a company that takes the guessing out of experiencing.  Whether you are looking for a genuine adventure (hiking, crossfit and wakeboarding – oh my!), a culinary experience, or a theatrical creation, Huron Adventures Inc. has all the passion and partnerships to let you in on the many adventures we have hidden within our beloved county.

Last Friday I was fortunate enough to be able to join Genny and her crew on their inaugural adventure with Steven Sparling and the Canadian Propane Association corporate retreat attendees.  If you’re anything like me, I often feel intimidated by the limitless options we have within the area and end up doing much of the “same old” every weekend since I can’t make a decision.  Luckily for everyone, Huron Adventures Inc. had the whole day planned out, leaving any decision making out of the equation.

I met the group at the Queens Bakery in Blyth after their chartered bus pick-up at the Benmiller Inn & Spa.  Located in a beautifully renovated heritage building on main street in Blyth, the espresso bar features local artisanal products (coffee, cheese, maple syrup, etc) and fresh baked goods in a super relaxing and chill environment.  From here we were to grab a beverage of choice (hello Royal Canadian coffee!), where I looked like an opportunistic coffee mooch by joining the group’s coffee order prior to an introduction.  After some laughs, we were on our way to experience a historic tour of Blyth hosted by one of the town’s most avid ambassadors – Rick Elliott.

Queens Bakery in Blyth

Queens Bakery in Blyth

Rick’s historic tour wound it’s way past the Blyth Memorial Hall (we were unable to enter the hall due to theatre rehearsals; the festival opens Wednesday, June 25th), and led us towards the soon-to-be repurposed Blyth Public School.  As a defining component of Blyth’s Campaign 14/19, the old public school will be re-established as a School of Art and Design within the next five years.  After a humourous education regarding the longstanding familial rivalry between rutabagas (thank you autocorrect) and turnips, we toured past Howson Mills where the smell of durum wheat at the flour mill made us think longingly of all of the delightful goodies we left behind at the Queens Bakery.

The final leg of Rick’s walking tour brought us to the Blyth Greenway Trail.  Situated on old CPR rail lines, the walking trail features fitness stations nestled alongside the Blyth Brook and is one of town’s hidden gems.  It was here, in this peaceful and relaxing environment, that we met our next adventure…Jen Fleming of The Tank Crossfit in Goderich.  All smiles and full of contagious energy, she presented us with this lovely whiteboard:

Nothin’ to it...right?

Nothin’ to it…right?

“Surely she can’t be serious”, I said to myself.  A few seasons of office work had fooled me into thinking my semi-daily walks were enough to keep me “fit”.  I was sorely mistaken, but since this was a day of adventure and trying new experiences we all dove right in.  There is something to be said about how great it feels to remember muscles long forgotten, but I will be forever grateful to the kind soul who decided all buses should have a handrail to climb and descend stairs with.  The program Jen created for us was fun and energetic, and we all spent a good portion of the exercises alternately laughing (at ourselves), and negotiating repetition counts.  It’s not every day you get to hold a propane tank over your head while your partner pounds out dreaded burpees!

Hey, Manitoba...how’s that one-armed push-up going?

Hey, Manitoba…how’s that one-armed push-up going?

The CPA Group after the Fit Tank Goderich Crossfit experience!

The CPA Group after the Fit Tank Goderich Crossfit experience!

Once we had completed the team building crossfit extravaganza, we hopped (I use that term loosely, we did just complete a million lunges) back onto the bus and began the trek out to Bayfield for some wakeboarding and stand up paddleboarding (SUP).

As you will learn, I love food, and this lunch was one of my favourites.  Shop Bike Coffee Roasters (a locally operated establishment in Bayfield with a lovely shop bike I am extremely envious of) sponsored the lunch featuring gourmet sandwiches, gluten free pasta and sweet treats all from the Black Dog Pantry.  To top it off, they had a variety of their organic & fair trade coffee options available to try.  Ah-may-zing.


ShopBike2smA snippet of the delicious spread by Shop Bike and the Black Dog Pantry

The energy that palpated through the bus on the drive to Bayfield had diminished somewhat by the time we boarded for our return to Blyth.  Not out of any sense of disappointment, but rather a combination of exhaustion and reflection; we had already experienced more of what our county has to offer in one day than most (myself included) choose to experience in a month.

The final stop on our adventure tour found us once again in Blyth, this time at Part II Bistro under the care of chef extraordinaire Peter Gusso.  Chef Gusso and his staff had prepared the restaurant for a private sushi lesson.  Each person was to create a sushi roll for another person in the group, however they liked, at which time the recipient would do the same for the next person.


Smoked trout sushi created under the guided direction of Chef Peter Gusso.

With full bellies, a few rutabagas, and big, tired smiles it was time for the CPA crew to call it a day.  Thanking them before they boarded the bus back to Benmiller, I was at a loss of words to fully explain how much I appreciated being able to join them that day.  The passion and dedication the Huron Adventures Inc. crew have for Huron County, small towns and local businesses is inspiring.  Their business model will create sustainability within the community through their shared partnerships and dedicated goals.  Huron County has so much to offer, not only to visitors, but especially to those who reside within our boundaries.  It is sometimes easy to forget, but like Friday showed me, it is sometimes just as easy to remember as well.

If you aren’t excited about Huron Adventures Inc yet, you need to be.

Huron Adventures Crew2

L to R, Heather Boa, Angela Smith, Genny Smith and Craig Sinclair of Huron Adventures Inc.


Huron Adventures Inc.

Dinner and Theatre makes for a Golden Summer Evening

20 Aug

2 Faux HeartAttackby Diva Susan Pye

Last Saturday evening, we went with some friends to beautiful downtown Blyth, to dine at Part II Bistro and attend the current offering at the Blyth Festival, “Garrison’s Garage” by Ted Johns.  It was a particularly  golden summer evening drive through some of the prettiest countryside in Huron County, where we who live here congratulate ourselves for not living in say… (name your least favourite city).  We don’t have to  fight traffic, construction (coz we’re not on Hwy 21), testy drivers and robber-baron parking attendants to enjoy a fabulous dinner and great theatre, at non-city prices.

We all had tasty, beautifully presented appetizers and dinner at the Bistro, as we told the chef when he came out of the kitchen to see how his creations were received by the happy diners. Clearly the word is out on this comfortable but classy dining spot, as it was packed.  Reservations are definitely a good idea.  My only complaint- dinner was so good, no room for dessert! Next time.

Garrison’s Garage was a hoot! Originally presented in 1985, the play stands the test of time, perhaps due to the timeless central theme- Canada Revenue vs. us poor schmucks, I mean Taxpayers.  We can all relate, or at least I can, as how to complete my Income Tax is an abiding mystery to me. As is how my car works and why is doesn’t (usually at the most inconvenient moment possible) is another central theme of the play.  It was a full house who frequently LOL’d, so clearly other Huron County residents and visitors share my bemusement re: the inner workings of the CRA and automobiles.

We are really are blessed in Huron County!

Garrison’s Garage runs in repertory at the Blyth Festival until August 31.

Blyth Festival
P.O. Box 10, 431 Queen Street
Blyth, ON  N0M 1H0
519-523-9300 / 1-877-toBlyth (862-5984)

Part II Bistro
Queen Street
Blyth, ON  N0M 1H0
519-226-FOOD (3663)