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Ingredients of the Moment, Foraged and Cultivated

June 20 2017
My dog Champ has adapted well to dividing his time between the farm and the city. While in the city he looks forward to his daily walks along the West Toronto Rail Path. This morning, we walked north past the Union-Pearson Express station at Bloor, to Dupont and then back. Champ loves to pause frequently along the way. A fresh blossom caught my eye as I waited for Champ to thoroughly inspect yet another interesting scent in the underbrush. It was the first catalpa flower of the year.

Gently Steering the Ingredients

June 14 2017
The last couple of days of tropical heat and humidity have convinced me that we have come through the long, cool, wet spring and have arrived at summer. Shimmering heat and the cacophony of tree frogs and cicadas has replaced damp coolness and sinister, carnivorous May flies. The veil has lifted.

Sensory Memories and Ephemeral Identities

May 30 2017
There is the same intoxicating profusion of lilacs in bloom. I watch from the kitchen in the loafing barn as our guests make their way past the garden to the top of the escarpment to enjoy an apéritif and passed hors d’oeuvres as they look over the vineyard, now 15 years old, to the village of Hillier, on the other side of the creek. Needless to say, we purchased this property and over the past 15 years have slowly gotten acquainted with the land and the possibilities it represents.

Stage Fright and Show Buzz

May 24 2017
I remember listening to an interview with a famous actor with many years of experience under her belt. The interviewer supposed that after all those years that preparing for a role must be more or less straightforward and certainly much less stressful now than when she was first starting out. “Au contraire” exclaimed the actor “I am probably more fretful now than I ever was and certainly I still have butterflies in my stomach in anticipation of my performance”. In short, I suppose, it doesn’t get any easier. Should preparing for a performance ever be easy?

The Quest for Wood Fired, Clay Oven Baked Bread

May 18 2017
It has been a slow awakening this spring on the farm. The creek is surging. I have never seen rapids in there before. My dad would have loved to have paddled that white water in his canoe! I remember thinking how fortunate we were to have planned the cane raising work bee on April 22. I thought the buds were about to burst on the vines! In reality here we are nearly a month later and the canes are still budding out! It has been cool. It has been rainy. The pale green haze that is everywhere one looks has been slower this year to deepen to the various shades of green that emerge as the new leaves form on the trees.

Warm Autumn Reflections on the Summer Dinner Series

October 17 2016
There was a tang in the air. The leaves on the trees glowed with their Thanksgiving colours that Andy Goldsworthy finds so fascinating. Chase and I made sure there was plenty of firewood around. We would need to get the wood stove going in the loafing barn Saturday evening for the first time all summer. Victoria wanted the Tom Dean “Mercy” burning barrel close to the entrance so that everyone could see the fire from their seats. Crispy Confit of Pork was to be one of the hors d’oeuvres on the ridge so we needed to burn a fire there too.

Polished Gems Around the Table

September 06 2016
Bruno François said to me, “you know Jamie, what I have begun to realize is that more than making my way as a wine and cider maker, I value the friends I have made in the community that has grown here in Prince Edward County.” I agree with Bruno and I am fascinated by how the ground has shifted in this rural region.

On Sundials, Tamales and Limestone

August 30 2016

I am noticing how the sunlight plays on the side of the barn. This year we constructed an arbour covering the area of our outdoor kitchen. The idea was to allow, through the slatted roof, filtered sunlight to enter the space. It is a breezy spot, pleasant to work in, and sheltered from the direct glare of the sun.

How Nature Rebounds

August 23 2016
I saw the most spectacular moonrise around midnight this past Friday. I was walking and leaving a message on my cell phone when I caught a glimpse of this glow on the horizon. I had to hang up and just watch as this immense orange orb started climbing up the eastern sky. The horses in the barnyard were confused by the moon shadow and unusual intensity of light. They were unsettled and refused to go into their stalls. This beautiful natural event also seemed to usher in a shift in the season.

Suddenly it's August

August 02 2016
It happens every year. I look up and all of a sudden it's August. We have been in an absolute torpor all summer. I am joyful in my work but I do fantasize about lying in a hammock clutching a tall refreshing beverage and staring off into middle space feeling the breeze moving the leaves and branches of the poplars, swaying and drifting off into a long afternoon nap. The buzz of the cicadas casts the ultimate hypnotic spell.

A Collaboration with Chef Albert Ponzo

July 26 2016
From time to time we get to collaborate with our colleagues to create a gastronomic experience for our guests that allows them a window to observe and taste stylistic differences in food preparation, in real time, in the context of a dinner. For all the cooks involved, it is also a great opportunity to step outside one’s comfort zone and to learn from each other.

A Celebratory Feast with Charles Baker

July 19 2016
It is another peerless day on the farm. This morning I notice a heavy dew. The temperature has dropped overnight, providing water from condensation that I imagine my potato plants absorbing before the sun rises and all is dry again.

The Precious Gift of Water

July 12 2016
One of the first things I remember about settling in to my new rural home was the tour of the property conducted by the previous owner. It was such a lovely gesture on his part to personally walk me around, pointing out landmarks and boundaries; here is the abandoned rail that cuts right through, over there is the 35 acre woodlot.

Jeff Connell at the Summer Dinner Series

July 06 2016
Sometimes it takes stepping away from one’s usual focus to gain perspective and a better understanding of what makes the work one is engaged in, unique. This small journey outside the box inspires one further in one’s own work, closer to home.

Local Sparkling & Strawberries

June 28 2016
It has been hot and dry in Prince Edward County for the past month or so. I noticed it was becoming critical on Saturday as the dry golden grass crunched under my feet while getting set up on the ridge.

The Twin Cherries

June 21 2016

At 3:00 pm on Saturday June 18th, I was already up on the ridge. Anne Rumble stayed behind in the kitchen to put the last pieces of the mise en place together. Deep breaths and focus as we move into the fast water. The clock approaches guest arrival time at 5:00 pm. Today the excitement is palpable as it is our launch of the Summer Dinner Series.

Good Things Take Time

June 14 2016
It takes a while to change one's rhythm. I mean, I have owned this farm in Prince Edward County since 2001. I was drawn here through my curiosity about growing grapes and the magical transformation of grapes to wine.