Posted by: njbrown | May 21, 2013

Driving and Eating Our Way to the Maritimes and Back – Fifteen Days in the Car and Various Eating Establishments


Day 1 of our trip focused on driving from Oakville to North Hatley, Que. where Hovey Manor (Manoir Hovey) is located. Hovey Manor has a wonderful history that I won’t try to summarize, but if you are interested, you can go to their website. Although we had made dinner reservations for 7 p.m. almost two months ago, the desk staff seemed perplexed when we arrived, and said 8:45 would be the best they could do for us. My stomach has never been tuned to late dining, and after some negotiation, George was able to get us a table at 7. The maître d’ was exceedingly gracious about the mix-up, and had us served complementary kirs.

Hovey Manor is a 4-diamond Relais and Chateaux “establishment,” and the food was worthy of the rating. The $70 table d’hote included many courses. To begin, we were given an amuse bouche of spring greens (including daisy buds, I think the server said), over which was poured a beautiful green cold soup.

Scallop Boudin

Scallop Boudin

For an appetizer, I chose scallop boudin (a sausage), briar reduction, grilled kale, celeriac, spatzles and pickled Irish moss. There were other aspects to the dish, including “mushroom paper,” that I’d never encountered before. The “spatzles” were almost black, and the servers told me the color came from vegetable juice, and vegetable ash, but no one was able to give me more information than that. Obviously, the chef keeps some culinary secrets.

Foie Gras “En Torchon”

Foie Gras “En Torchon”

George chose foie gras “En Torchon” creamy maple syrup, camelina seed, wild rose brioche bread, and sun-flower rhubarb.

Tofu Bourguignon

Tofu Bourguignon

Trying to stay away from all food from creatures with eyelashes, I ordered the tofu bourguignon for my main course.

It was absolutely delicious!

I’m sure tofu is rarely elevated to that level.

Pan-fried Halibut

Pan-fried Halibut

George had pan-fried halibut, Alfred le Fermier cheese risotto (which included wild rice), citrus braised fennel, and aniseed spinach mousse.

“Pre-dessert” of tiny ice cream cones

“Pre-dessert” of tiny ice cream cones

Nyangbo dark chocolat tartelette

Nyangbo dark chocolat tartelette

We had a “pre-dessert” of tiny ice cream cones filled with a cheesecake-like mixture. For dessert, I had Nyangbo dark chocolat tartelette, hazelnut ice cream, rowan ivory soft ganache, and several presentations of mango.

Creamy cake with maple syrup meringue

Creamy cake with maple syrup meringue

George’s dessert choice was creamy cake with maple syrup meringue, honey crisp apples, and blackberry coulis. I’ve never seen cake topped with meringue, but it worked really well, and the maple flavor was just perfect. Truly a memorable dessert!

Eggs Benedict

Eggs Benedict

I cannot say enough about the service at Hovey Manor. The dining room is not terribly large – perhaps 50 seats, but there were at least twelve servers attentive to our every need. I can’t remember such service in my life.

Breakfast the next morning was spectacular, but I was still recovering from the previous night’s dinner.

George pronounced his eggs Benedict the best he’d ever had.

Day 2 focused less on eating, and after attending the mid-day mass at the Abbey of Saint-Benoît-du-Lac (where the monks sang the entire liturgy in Gregorian chant style), we set out to visit various settings of Louise Penny mysteries in the Eastern Townships. In Knowlton, we went to Brome Lake Books, the bookstore where she holds her book launches (she lives somewhere unspecified in the Knowlton/Sutton area). The staff there were delightful, and gave us a newly printed map that fans can follow to view the places that inspired different settings in her books. Looking at the map, we realized that we had lunched at the equivalent of Gabri and Olivier’s Bistro. Since one mystery had been set in a monastery – loosely modeled after St. Benoit du Lac – we were able to tick that one off. Another mystery was set at a disguised Hovey Manor – another check. The bookstore added one more check, and so we traveled to Stanbridge E. to see the mill where the famous shootout took place. Clearly, Louise has a wonderful imagination, and none of the places were as I’d imagined them. The CBC movie Still Life was filmed in Stanbridge E., but given that it is truly not much more than the crossing to two roads, it will be interesting to see how they get the charming village of Three Pines out of it.

When we arrived back at Hovey Manor, they said they’d saved us a table. We were slightly dismayed because even though I’d had a light lunch (that term isn’t in George’s vocabulary); I still wasn’t ready for another gargantuan meal.  We bit the bullet and had another excellent dinner.

The next day, we visited nearby North Hatley – another village upon which Three Pines was based. From our previous visits, we know it is quite small, and I was hoping I’d feel as though I’ve found Three Pines.  It was smaller, and quite lovely, but Three Pines it was not.  From there we pressed on to Quebec City and the Chateau Frontenac where we spent half of our honeymoon in 1972. We agreed we would have a simple dinner.

Advertisements

Responses

  1. The food looks beautiful, and I bet delicious!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Categories

%d bloggers like this: