I have had 5 meals at the new Maison du Village and can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have this new addition to our community. Sara and Michael are putting local ingredients on beautiful plates at a price that is well worth the trip to Wakefield if you are not a local. Comparable to Ottawa’s best restaurants, this little gem of a place continues to surprise me with their ability to pack loads of flavour into every bite. I can’t get enough of the Pigs Cheeks with Gnocchi. The pork is crispy, the gnocchi is just the right consistency and each bite is a little ‘party in my mouth’.
Last night’s salmon with local vegetables, pesto and egg was a nice take on a Salade Niçoise. The braised beef short ribs are some of the best I have ever had, and each time I visit there are enough things done just a little bit differently to keep their short menu interesting.
Watching Michael move around his small kitchen is truly a delight. This is clearly a man who knows what he is doing, and how to make the most of the space and the ingredients that he has to work with.
Congratulations to Sara and Michael for a job Well Done!
My favourit holidays are most often centre around good food, interesting restaurants, food shops and farmer’s markets that have been diligently researched in advanced. Recently, it was fun to take a spontaneous Mom & Son road trip with my 12 year old without as much preparation.
We decided that we would travel to Boston, spend 3 nights, then meander home through the Eastern United States, stopping for a few nights along the way.
Driving through Vermont, a stop at Ben & Jerry’s flagship production facility was a must. A quick tour, a taste of some great ice cream, a couple of souvenirs and we were back on the road, arriving in Boston on the eve of Independence Day.
During 2 1/2 days we squeezed in a great historical walking tour of the city, a farmer’s market on the edge of the financial district and a boat tour of the harbour. We enjoyed a seafood lunch at the Barking Crab which was featured on my Son’s favourite food network show. We ate a delicious tapas meal one night, BBQ the next and had late night ‘room service’ on the last night ’cause we were exhausted from ‘touristing’.
‘Crumbs‘, home of the colossal cupcake, was established in 2003 and were the pioneers of the cupcake craze. They recently opened an outpost in Boston which we happened to stumble upon it. The decadent ‘chocolate smores’ received 2 thumbs up from the 12 year old!!
On our way home we spent two nights in Portland Maine, the lobster capital of the U.S.. Portland, with a population 64,000, is a culinary hotbed and home toa booming artisanal food scene. Locally grown and produced, there is an abundance of food businesses collaborating to create, sustain and elevate the food scene of this city. We stayed in the Old Port and did an organized ‘culinary tour’ of several of the companies that make Portland such a great food destination. We barely scratched the surface!!
The most amazing meal we had was at the Farmer’s Table, a restaurant whose values & philosophy echo those of the RedApron. Crab cakes & mussels to start with, followed by a delicious house made pasta carbonara with lobster and perfectly seared scallops topped with parsley pesto, resting on a bed of oatmeal risotto.
I think a future (diligently researched) vacation to Portland is in order..and soon!
Last Sunday we loaded up a bus with 35 friends, family, customers and colleagues and headed out to visit three farms in the Manotick/Osgoode region.
This was the second in a series of bus tours that we will schedule on a quarterly basis to connect our community with the farms that feed us.
Our first stop was for a tour of Suntech Greenhouses in Manotick. The initial facility was constructed in 1999 and covered 2.3 acres of the land. An additional twelve thousand square feet was added in the spring of 2001, bringing the greenhouse acreage to 2.5 acres. Since then, the infrastructure was increased by 1.5 acres in 2010, bringing the total greenhouse surface to 4 acres. Using state of the art hydroponic techniques Suntech provides premium quality produce and has been a supplier to the Red Apron for a number of years.
Our lively host and business owner Bob Mitchell toured us around the greenhouses, explaining the intricacies of hydroponic growing techniques. We learned about how they use good bugs to eat bad bugs, which music stations they find the most inspiring for their pickers, and the trials and tribulations of farming year round in our climate. The tour made us a bigger fan of their produce than we already were.
And of course, we were able to shop in their store for lovely fresh picked tomatoes, green beans, cucumbers, and eggplant for our picnic!
Our second stop was Clarmell on the Rideau, where Paul & Grace operate a fifth-generation farm that has been in the family for more than 100 years. In Recent years, Paul & Grace have moved from milking cows to milking goats, and produce a lovely Feta and Chevre, made 100% with their own goats’ milk, in a winning partnership with the Glengarry Fine Cheese Factory in Lancaster, Ontario.
Turns out that goats love having their picture taken. They also love attention, are extremely docile and super cuddly. Everyone fell in love with these creatures and we have all decided that we want to have one or two as pets.
The family welcomed us with open arms and had set up a farm stand full of baked goods, cheese & sweets. Again, we stocked up on items for our picnic and carried on to the next destination!
Millers’ Farm & Market near Manotick was founded in 1981. Best known for their berries –they grow red and purple raspberries, strawberries, gooseberries, elderberries and wild blueberries. When we arrived Susie Miller had put picnic tables under a tree for us to lay out our goodies on. We spread out the food and our picnic blankets and enjoyed a lovely meal of fresh vegetables, goat cheese, True loaf bread, terrines, berries & baked goods.
Then the Miller’s took us by tractor trailer to the picking fields where we loaded up our baskets with sweet juicy berries.
The weather was fantastic, the farmers were generous and gracious, and the company was fun. I would say a good time was had by all.
In the spring we took a crew of staff, family & clients to a Sugar Shack in Quebec. It was a ton of fun and we vowed to have regular outings that allow us to visit local growers and producers, familiarize ourselves with their processes and challenges, while enjoying some fresh air, sunshine, and of course – food!
Our next trip is planned for Sunday June 17 (Father’s Day). We have some spaces available for friends & clients. If you are interested in joining us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your spot. Seating is limited.
The itinerary is as follows:
Sunday June 17 - Depart Red Apron at 10AM
1st Stop: Suntech Greenhouses in Manotick
SunTech Greenhouses occupies a ninety acre lot in the town of Manotick. The initial facility was constructed in 1999 and covered 2.3 acres of the land. An additional twelve thousand square feet was added in the spring of 2001, bringing the greenhouse acreage to 2.5 acres. Since then, the infrastructure was increased by 1.5 acres in 2010, bringing the total greenhouse surface to 4 acres. Using state of the art hydroponic techniques Suntech provides premium quality produce and has been a supplier to the Red Apron for a number of years.
We plan to have a tour of the facilities which we expect will last approximately 1 hour.
2nd Stop: Clarmell on the Rideau
Just south of Manotick on the Rideau River we will visit this fifth-generation dairy farm has been in the Mussell family for more than 100 years, and is a designated ‘Century Farm’. In Recent years, Paul & Grace have moved from milking cows to milking goats, and produce a lovely Feta and Chevre, made 100% with their own goats’ milk, in a winning partnership with the Glengarry Fine Cheese Factory in Lancaster, Ontario. Their new herd was dominated by the Saanen breed, best known for the quality of their milk and their high production. The Mussells then added a judicious mix of Nubian, Alpine and Toggenberg goats whose milk would raise the total level of butterfat. We have been carrying their chevre in our retail store for a few months and it has become a very popular addition to our small cheese selection. We plan a tour of the facilities and have been promised lots and lots of baby goats to see and cuddle.
3rd and final stop:
Millers’ Farm & Market near Manotick was founded in 1981. Best known for their berries – they grow red and purple raspberries, strawberries,gooseberries & elderberries. We expect that at the time that we visit we should be able to pick Strawberries. They also have a Garden Centre where they sell flower, herb and vegetable plants. We will arrive at this destination shortly after 1pm and will allow 2 hours for berry picking and a picnic.
Again, this is a rain or shine event so if you reserve a spot, come rain or shine and dress appropriately.
We have about 40 seats available on the bus and there is no charge for staff, family, and clients. You will need to bring money if you plan to purchase treats along the way, and to pack a picnic lunch to be enjoyed at our final destination. The Red Apron will contribute a few items for sharing.
I returned this weekend from a vacation. One of the destinations along the way was Old San Juan. I had been once before, and really enjoyed the Old Town. The narrow cobblestone streets and old forts remind me so much of Montreal and Quebec City, but with with the added benefit of being in the Caribbean!
A friend of my son once commented that all of my vacation photos were of food. Not people, not places, not art or architecture, but just food. I thought her questions strange. What else is there?
We began our food journey with breakfast. We had read about this breakfast spot where they served a traditional Puerto Rican breakfast, diner style. It reminded me of Schwartz’s in Montreal. The waiters looked like they had worked there forever. They did a few things, really well, and the equipment they used was ancient. We were mesmerized by the juicer that transformed whole oranges (in one end ) into freshly squeezed juice (out the other end). But their specialty was Mallorcas.
This danish like pastry was slit in half, dressed with ham and cheese (yes, cheese slices a la Kraft) and pressed in a panini style grill, then brushed with butter and sprinkled with icing sugar. The filling options ranged from egg, bacon, ham, jam, you name it, but in every case it was sprinkled with icing sugar. If someone had described this too me I would have found the thought of it quite revolting given my aversion to all things processed, but I have to admit that it was delicious, comforting, and a perfect accompaniment to my Café con leche.
The other specialty of Old San Juan is Tapas. This stunning array featured cheeses and cured meats, mostly imported from Spain.
Like most of Spain, Old San Juan is abundant with Tapas bars where you can get ‘small plates’ of everything. Unlike Spain, these small plates tasted best with rum, and not wine. Every trip I take I become more committed to a belief in the concept of terroir. Wine in the Caribbean just doesn’t taste right.
We enjoyed some amazing dinners featuring lots of fish, but I have to admit that the best meal of the trip was at a restaurant called Marmalade, owned and operated by an American chef with considerable international experience. I chose this restaurant because the reviews were outstanding, but I am always quite skeptical when a restaurant is reviewed so favourably. The need to book a table 1-2 weeks in advance added to my skepticism.
Well I have to admit to being somewhat speechless. The starter, their signature soup, a puree of white bean sounded quite boring. It was outstanding. The flavour was perfect, the garnishes (truffle oil, bacon ‘dust’, and green onions) were…..yum! I settled in and prepared myself to be impressed. Next course – house made gnocchi with braised beef short-rib ragu, cream, and crispy beets…..double yum!
The main course of locally caught red snapper crusted with peanut on a bed of basmati rice with a shrimp dumpling and coconut curry foam was like heaven in my mouth. Each bite was perfect!
I was caught between heaven and hell. I wanted to eat more but I was so full that I couldn’t eat another bite. But like a true foodie, I soldiered on and finished the dessert. Chocolate raspberry beignets with a chocolate-raspberry sauce.
I honestly can’t remember a meal that I have enjoyed more in the last couple of years. And at $130 for 2 people, including cocktails and a glass of wine, I felt it was incredibly good value.
We had a nice chat with the Chef. He explained that although his restaurant was incredibly well reviewed and popular, his challenge was that each night he hosted 120 diners, most of whom were first time customers, unlikely to return more than once every few years. Being located in a high traffic tourist destination means that he does not have a core base of return customers. This made me very appreciative of the fact that most of our client base are people who enjoy our food weekly.
We are Mothers, residents of our community, entrepreneurs as well as active participants in our local economy. We individually have a history of owning and operating successful local businesses.
Our commitment to getting people “back to the table” starts at home and extends to our community through a number of philanthropic endeavours.