“Aww I don’t want to spit out all that wine,” Adam said as we pulled away from the car rental spot in Toronto — we were headed to Prince Edward County for the weekend to celebrate my 30th birthday with food, wine and fresh air.
Neither of us had been to ‘the County’ before, but with all the buzz in Travel & Leisure and The Globe and Mail (to name a few), we wanted to check out some of the regions’ wineries, restaurants and antique shops… and a little wedding research never goes astray does it?
Here’s how to spend 48 hours in Prince Edward County.
Friday, 5:30PM: Hitting the road.
The drive to our accommodations at Angeline’s Inn in Bloomfield takes between two and three hours from Toronto, depending on traffic — we did the drive in about two hours and ten minutes rocking out to some Robyn and retro soul.
9:00PM: Dinner at The Drake Devonshire.
Fortuitously, Countylicious (PEC’s version of Winterlicious) is on from April 1-24, so we were able to gobble up a three-course prix fixe at The Drake’s impeccably decorated county outpost. The cheesy grits coddling Adam’s pork chop were so tasty, it was hard not to steal them all, even though I had a giant bowl of asparagus pesto risotto sitting in front of me. And don’t even get me started on those warm doughnuts.
Saturday, 10:00AM: Breakfast at The Saylor House Cafe.
Tucked away in the backyard of this historic B&B sits a little cafe found only by a sandwich board on Bloomfield’s main drag (and word out mouth from a trusted innkeeper). The breakfast was simple, delicious and our ‘appetizer’ scones were spot-on, served with clotted cream and jam.
11:00AM: Poking around Dead People’s Stuff.
Bloomfield has a few lovely shops and cafes, including this gem full of China tea cups and vintage furniture. Adam loved the mantiques section full of old tools. Kokito is also worth a stop with a curated selection of housewares and gifts, mostly made in Canada.
12:00PM: Sips at Norman Hardie Winery and Vineyard.
The first winery tasting started off the day right: we loved the fullness of the Cabernet Franc, and walked away with a couple bottles of the Riesling which was the perfect balance of acidity.
12:30PM: Big sips at Hinterland Wine Company.
My new happy place. I fell in love with this sparkling four years ago when I had dinner at Joe Beef in Montreal, and it was as delicious as I remembered. We tried everything (it brought a tear to my eye to watch Adam spit it out) and carted home a bottle of Les Etoiles 2012 Method Traditional to age in time for my 31st birthday.
*Note: we skipped lunch in order to spend more time tasting wine, but I’ve heard lots of good things about East & Main Bistro in Wellington — it’s first on my list for next time.*
1:30PM: Karlo Estates.
With an homage to Adam’s hero Doug Gilmore on the wine list (he commissioned several wines to be made there), this place offered small food pairings along with their $1 tastings.
2:30PM: One last stop at Huff Estates Winery & Inn.
There are more than 30 wineries in PEC, so I was pretty proud we were able to hit four in one day (if I had been spitting I probably would have managed more). Huff Estates is an established winery with much bigger production; the tasting room is impressive and has a large selection to taste.
4:oopm: Pour over pick-me-up in Picton:
After all the wine, I needed a little caffeine and found the perfect cup in the back of Frugal and Company, a vintage store on the main street in Picton. Happy Camper Coffee Bar owner Scott Anderson, a boisterous guy who loves a chat and knows his pour over, opened the coffee-shop-in-a-shop in late 2015.
Strolling along Main Street Picton we came across Zest Kitchen Shop where we bought some crazy delicious hot honey made by local producers, County Yum Club. Yes spicy, sweet local honey with chilies and horseradish I am already addicted to with cheese and crackers.
8:00PM: Dinner at The Hubb.
For dinner we strolled across the parking lot to the main building at Angeline’s for dinner at The Hubb for another Countylicious prix fixe. From the cocktails at the bar with a small wooden box filled with popcorn and garlic knots, to the housemade dilly bars and everything in between, the meal was the best we ate in the county the whole weekend.
Sunday 9:00AM: Coffee, croissants and newspapers at Angeline’s Inn.
Self-described as quirky, Angeline’s (owned by a the young hip interior designer and preservationist Alex Fida and his sister Melanie) is the perfect collection of curated kitsch, well thought out art, intentioned but simple vintage furnishings and calming colours. We stayed in The Walter, and number seven was beaut – small, cozy and at $119 a night, it has all the comforts of a hotel room with the right amount of cool.
11:30AM: Brunch at The Agrarian.
Right across the street from The Saylor House, this hip bistro feels like it could be at home in downtown Toronto, with a county kindness that can’t be found anywhere else. Dan the Man’s Brunch Poutine stemmed from the cravings of a hungover dishwasher and it’s been a staple on the menu ever since. Think about it like this: poutine and eggs benny had a delicious baby.
1:00PM: One last tasting at Barley Days Brewery.
In the 1800s, Prince Edward County was the place to be for barley farmers; they produced the best malt varietal around and this brewery pays tribute with a large selection of craft brews. The Oyster Stout tasted like the ocean, and as we carried away our bottles, it was like taking a piece of the east coast home.
2:00PM: Refueling with apple pie at The Big Apple.
On the way home to Toronto, we just had to stop at this apple wonderland in Colborne right off the 401. Believe me, you can’t miss it. The giant apple leads the way to delicious apple pie, cider and a myriad of other fruity products.