This past weekend was spent trolling through the wineries of Prince Edward County.
Having been to Niagara’s wine country many times, we thought a change of scenery would be a good idea. A little bit of digging showed us that wineries are not the only draw – PEC does its best to promote the local farmers, chefs, artisans, cheesemakers, chocolatiers, bakers, and more!
This would be a weekend of indulging, exploring and long naps. This is the first of three posts…
Our first stop when we got into town was Buddha Dog – the #1 “place to eat” on most articles I read about visiting Prince Edward County. Hot dogs aren’t the first food I think to go for – but these ones are special. Everything about these dogs is local – locally produced meat, buns, cheese, sauces, etc. There were so many mixes of sauces and cheeses (even more than you see on this menu!) that I couldn’t decide – so I decided not to decide!
We ordered two ‘flights’ of three wee dogs, with toppings selected by the staff. Our favourites? The dog of the day was topped with maple bacon jam and Black River pepper jack cheese. Yup, we liked that one. There was also one with jalapeño tequila sauce that was amazing, and I really liked the cherry ketchup on another. Overall, there were lots of great flavour combos and I would definitely go back for another flight.
After a brief walk, and some caffeination, we decided to drive out to Waupoos and find Fifth Town cheese.
We started with a couple of Waupoos wineries: Waupoos Estates Winery and Del Gatto Estates Winery. The thing to keep in mind about PEC wineries is that it is a cold climate – colder than Niagara, even. The reds tend to be lighter, and the whites are usually the wines given the spotlight. If you’re looking for something that tastes like an Australian Shiraz, you won’t find it here. The tough part is that it takes me a couple of tastings to really get a sense of the ‘local flavour’ and prep my palette to be able to find the nuances in the wines.
Luckily, we were able to find wines that we enjoyed at both of the first wineries – a Geisenheim at Waupoos Estates that had a serious grapefruit tang, and ‘Two Shades’ from Del Gatto that blends Frontenac Noir and Leon Millot into a peppery and bright red.
Next was the stop I had been looking forward to all day – Fifth Town cheese. Fifth Town primarily makes goat cheeses in many varieties. I kept hearing delicious things about Fifth Town, so we had no choice but to go investigate. During the summer, they have more activities and tours and things. In the off-season, you can still visit the store and see what’s going on. Oh yeah – and try all of the cheese.
One by one, we tasted through the different cheeses, from goat cheddar to soft rolled cheese to soft-ripened cheeses. We bought quite a few, but I think the ones that really blew me away were “Nettles Gone Wild” (a soft-ripened cheese with a hint of earthiness) and “Lemon Fetish” (a crumbly sheep’s milk cheese with lemon and red fife flour). We lovingly described the ‘Lemon Fetish’ as being like a tequila shot in a cheese – lemony, salty, tangy.
As we were checking out, one more thing caught my eye – a small box of goat cheese truffles. I snatched it up – without the benefit of trying any (I trusted them) – and we were on our way. We started the drive back toward Picton, to our hotel. The drive was lovely – and I really want to go back so I can get a better look at the “Lake on the Mountain” – a lake “nearly 62 metres above the Bay of Quinte”. I had never heard of it before, so when we passed a sign saying “Lake on the Mountain”, I was a little bit puzzled… until I saw the lake that was level was us, to the left, and the Bay of Quinte waaaaaaaay down on the right. It was a little bit surreal.
We finally got to the hotel (we stayed at the Merill Inn), checked in and had a bit of a rest. Then it was off to dinner!! We knew we’d be having a big fancy dinner the next night, so we wanted something a little more casual. We opted to go to the Barley Room – a cute little pub at the Waring House with some local beer and tasty nibblies. We got our first taste of Barley Days beer, a fantastic cheddar and apple cider soup (the highlight of our meal!) and a salmon en croute that was – no joke – the size of my head!! Just to put this into perspective for you — I have a really big head, so this dish was insane.
So that’s what we did on the first day. It was a long day of travelling and tasting, and we had a great time but were happy to tuck into the comfy bed in the adorable inn at the end of the night. We would have a full day ahead of us the next day…