Do you ever have those weekends that really stand out among the rest? Where Sunday evening rolls around and you kick your feet up and let out a big happy sigh…? I just had one of those weekends.
We had been looking forward to our Friday night meal for quite some time and the anticipation only made the night more exciting. Friends of ours had reserved the chef’s table at Woodstock’s sixthirtynine restaurant and knew my husband and I would appreciate the unique dining experience.
We entered a quaint home off a side street (which we later learned was the house that Chef Eric Boyar grew up in!) and walked into a cozy 30-seater dining room. Through the dining area to the back of the restaurant was the kitchen and our beautifully positioned chef’s table, which was a truly private and personal seating that really makes guests feel like VIP’s!
Attentive waitstaff and friendly kitchen staff were eager to impress, entertain, answer our questions, and make sure we had everything we could possibly want. With a wonderful Ontario beverage selection, I chose a New Limburg Wit Belgian Style Ale from the small village of Nixon, Ontario, while my husband’s go-to is always a Beau’s Lug Tread from Vankleek Hill in the Ottawa Valley.
We had chosen to share a locally sourced Berkshire pork belly appetizer with poached apples and celery root ricotta agnolotti, which was preceded by a special treat from the kitchen. Our mini beef tartar in a Brussels sprout leaf was one bite that packed in waves of flavour. Once the appetizers were devoured, we were treated to an apple and spiced rum glace amuse bouche.
With entrees on their way, being perfectly prepared right before our very eyes, I could almost taste my roasted duck breast before it even arrived at the table. The melt in your mouth duck meat exceeded my expectations, as did my husband’s seared spring fed rainbow trout. Fish isn’t always top of mind when thinking about local availability, but Lake Erie perch is an irresistible favourite and I can certainly add Ontario farmed trout to that list. Highly recommended!
Throughout the night Chef Eric would stop by the table to share his enthusiasm for preparing locally-inspired meals, supporting the farmers that provide him with such delicious ingredients and share stories of his culinary career. If you’ve ever wanted to experience a truly special night out, the chef’s table at sixthirtynine is for you!
The weekend adventure continued the following morning, as we hit the road to Niagara’s wine country for the Days of Wine & Chocolate. With over 20 participating wineries, it took some serious planning to select our favourite wine and chocolate pairings and to plan our route for the day. From Lakeview Wine Co.’s 2015 FRESH Perspectives Satin Red paired with a dark chocolate cheesecake, to Rancourt Winery’s Chardonnay and lobster bisque with white chocolate shavings pairing, the day was filled with delightful tastings.
As someone who doesn’t have a persistent sweet-tooth (crazy, I know), I was impressed with the creativity of the dishes. We rarely ate a mouthful of chocolate, and instead were treated to dishes like smoked chicken and chocolate cheddar panini with mushrooms and preserved cherries, dark chocolate dipped potato chips, and pulled pork on a chocolate cayenne crostini with chocolate cabernet balsamic drizzle. We filled ourselves with fantastic savoury flavours, which made it easier to enjoy the sweet decadence of treats like Hare Wine Co.’s red wine fudge brownie topped with maple candied bacon.
Over a quick 24 hours, we had wined and dined at some of Ontario’s finest local restaurants and wineries for the ideal self-indulgent weekend. If you’re overdue for a weekend of indulgence, there’s still two February weekends left to get out and sample your way through Niagara’s Days of Wine & Chocolate. Get out and love local this weekend!
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Britt Stager wears many hats including Food Editor for Love Local Food, Director of Social Media Marketing and REES + STAGER, Director of Real Food Creative, and blogger at My Daily Randomness, a personal lifestyle blog. Her true loves in life include her dog Maddy, coffee and dessert.