Welcome to Second Ferment! Wine pairs well with life ... and food, travel, people, work and play. Grab a glass and join me as I explore the wine scene in Ottawa, Canada, and beyond. Love hearing from my readers, so please leave a comment. Cheers! - Bethany

Thursday, March 21, 2013

#indulgePEC: The Food

Busy breakfast bar at The Hubb
Cinnamon-sugar donuts / County Mimosa
Oh, the food. The glorious food that seemed to magically appear everywhere we went, served up by some of the nicest, most knowledgable and County-proud folks, made by passionate chefs from simple, fresh goods. So. Much. Food.

I should have really followed the advice of the #indulgePEC veterans on this matter; "Eat light and save room - there's gonna be more." But it seemed impossible to resist the bounty laid out for us.

On Day 1, our group congregated at The Hubb at Angeline's, a mere skip across the driveway from our newly renovated motor-inn-style rooms. Laura, the barkeep on hand, poured goblets of County mimosas: grapefruit juice / rhubarb simple syrup / Huff Estates 2010 CuvĂ©e Janine, a blushing bubbly of 100% pinot noir highlighted by notes of pomegranate and raspberry. Oh, and there were donuts (beignets? Donut holes? Whatever. They were fresh-from-the-oven warm, doughy morsels of early-morning numminess, dusted with cinnamon and sugar. Impossible to resist.)

The Agrarian served up gourmet grilled cheese and superlative waffles for lunch, along with a choice of top-notch County wines. I opted for a sammie with Bothwell maple-wood smoked cheddar, double-smoked bacon and maple mustard (actually, our whole table did - who can say 'no' to bacon?) The Keint-He 2009 Chardonnay was a good match with the woody, smoky flavours: lightly oaked, butterscotch and caramel-sweet on the palate, with a pleasant seam of acidity on the finish. The Maplelicious tart from Just Sweets Retro Bakery was teeth-achingly sweet, topped with a nutty crumble and wrapped in buttery layers of pastry.

Not sure how any of us were still hungry by the time dinner rolled around, but after a busy afternoon of wine tasting and gallery-touring, Pomodoro was our final destination for the day.

I love the bar in this place. A mish-mosh of found items, antiques and funky lighting dominated by a huge wooden slab. The front panels of the bar (along with the ceiling) feature tin tiles from the original structure; vertical wine racks frame a long mirror behind rows of spirits.

Pomodoro's focus is contemporary Italian. Three courses of amuse-bouches were trotted out (you know, because we haven't had enough food already): deep fried rice balls, one done with pesto, one done Buffalo-style; fried gnocchi with pancetta in a wine cream sauce; and slices of pancetta / tomato / smoked mozzarella pizza. The Countylicious menu included unique takes on traditional classics like veal parmesan and house-made pasta. I opted for the calamari primi and the parpardelle secondi.

Crispy calamari / lemon caper aioli / arrabiatta sauce 
Parpardelle / wild mushrooms / peppers / spinach / parmesan / balsamic cream sauce
The hours rolled by in an unhurried fashion; we table-hopped and talked shop and indulged in a few donated bottles left over from the afternoon tasting. Crowds came and went by the table, with several people stopping to chat up our hosts. Here in the County, everyone knows everyone else. A walk down the street, a stop at a store or, as in this case, dinner out, means bumping into at least half a dozen familiar faces.

Goodness, we were stuffed. And there was still a whole other day to contend with. Sunday dawned with more donuts at The Hubb, followed by a sugar-shack feast at the Waupoos Gazebo Restaurant, complete with syrup tapped from their own maples and rendered on-site. We walked off some of the calories hiking around the vineyards and adjacent farm, but still dreaded facing another meal.

What a relief, then, when we arrived at the Bloomfield Carriage House to have ... salad. Of course, this wasn't just any old salad:

Arugula / poached egg / shiitake mushrooms / bread crisps / shaved parmesan / truffle oil
Nor was it just salad: a sampler of terrine packed with cranberries, and wedges of a goat cheese & tomato tart were just enough to thrill the taste buds, but not so much to overload our already bursting stomachs. All this was accompanied by Lighthall Vineyards Progression sparkling vidal, a crowd favourite among us bloggers. (I heard they're running out of this gem already; no surprise, at $20/bottle for an outstanding bubbly.)

The Marshmallow Room, an annex of the Carriage House, tempted us with sweets, pastries and other confections for the road; I couldn't help but grab an oatmeal-raisin cookie on my way out. That's the way things roll in the County. You simply can't resist One. More. Bite.

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