Monday, 30 June 2014

Breakfast and Wine: Welcome to the 1000 Islands

How do we kick off tourist season in the world-renowned 1000 Islands? With Breakfast on Refugee Island, an afternoon at the hydroplane races and then top it off with the Food and Wine Show!

Friday evening was the beginning of the 1000 Islands Wine and Food Festival. This is an annual event that started out being hosted by the Brockville and District Chamber of Commerce's Tourist office and is now being successfully run by the Leeds and Grenville Volunteer Centre. Over the course of the five year event, there have been a few different venues- including the kickoff at the Brockville Country Club (BCC) and then moving to the Memorial Centre for years following. This year, the festival made it's return to the BCC and in my opinion- was the BEST one yet!

With only four main ladies organizing this community-wide festival, I was blown away by the finished product. The Brockville Country Club has never looked so elegant and classy. Yes, there were less vendors then years past, but this is a prime example of Quality vs. Quantity. From the moment you walked in and were greeted by the many happy volunteers, to the guest speakers, delicious treats, tantalizing appetizers and the variety of beer and wine- this event was a HUGE HIT! Bravo to everyone involved, I'm already looking forward to next year!

Saturday morning my girls were up at the crack of dawn- literally...the sun came up and they were at our bedroom door asking if it was time to go. Why were they excited? We were headed to St.Lawrence Park to board a boat to Refugee Islands and check out the return of "Breakfast in the Islands", hosted by Brockville Tourism. As their resident blogger, Tourism was gracious to offer my family and I passes to check out their event. This has been held in past years, but took a brief hiatus due to a lack of volunteers and organizers. I believe the entire community was anticipating the return of this breakfast, as the dock was already packed 8 am when we arrived.

We had a brief wait to be chartered over to Refugee Island, one of the many stunning Islands on the majestic St. Lawrence River and then we were off! The boat ride itself was a highlight for my girls- especially Remy, now two years old and taking it all in. When we landed, we were greeted by many happy volunteers and the smell of bacon, maple syrup, fresh local berries and other delicious food smells wafting through the air.

Breakfast was incredible and when we were finished, we decided to take a short hike on the Island and check it out. There was yoga being offered on a scenic and relaxing point overlooking the water, but my girls were more interested in the glitter tattoos being offered by Tourism staff! When it was time to head out, we were greeted back at the dock- this time by the very cool "Wild Cat" boat, owned and operated by Captn. Andy Neteeson of the Blockhouse boat tours. The girls (and I think Nick too)- were so excited to have the chance to board this boat. Needless to say, it was the perfect end to the perfect breakfast.

We had an absolute blast at this event, and I really hope Tourism continues to host it. It is the perfect way to showcase what our area has to offer (and eat some great local food!).

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Good Eats!

This past Father's Day weekend was exceptionally busy for my family and I. I had been planning a motorcycle show (which deserves it's own post- coming soon!) and was in serious need of down time before the big day.What does this gal do to relax before a busy day? Pack up our van and head out to find an adventure of course!

We put the kids in the car, in hopes they would doze off, leaving us to enjoy the country road drive. What happened was of course the opposite- they were wide awake and singing along to Blake Shelton with the windows down and soaking in that fresh farm air. It was then that we decided to detour over to the Northern Soul BBQ chip truck we had passed on another adventure.I was certain the chip truck was on Charleston Lake, but Nick stuck to his guns and headed down Graham Lake Road....which did eventually lead us to Northern Soul BBQ. 

There, beside the chip waggon was the coolest thing I have ever seen- the smoker. It smelled amazing and I was excited to try something (anything!) that had been cooked on it. I ordered the pulled pork poutine, Nick had a sausage with pulled pork and the girls, true to form - had hot dogs. O.M.G! Yes, I just used Facebook lingo in my blog to describe this- it was THAT good! There are no other words. 

With full bellies and sleeping children, we decided to continue our country drive and see where we ended up. By the time the girls woke up we were on the other side of Merrickville and headed near Kemptville. As The Kemptville Ribfest was on, and my bike event was cross-promoting with the wonderful fundraiser- we decided to stop in and check it out! 

My girls immediately spotted the bouncy castles and ran over. Any event with these inflatable toys are going to be a huge hit! We also made sure to check out the amazing entertainment and the stop for a pony and donkey ride on the way back. It was a short trip, as the rain was approaching but we are very happy we stopped in to check out Ribfest! This is an annual event that is a MUST on the to-do list. Brockville is hosting their Big Brothers & Big Sisters of Leeds Grenville Ribfest in August and I cant wait to spend the day there with the kids. 

It was a perfect day to relax with my family and take in some local attractions as well. When you get the chance, head out on a local road trip- you never know where it will take you or what you will find! 

Thursday, 12 June 2014

Let’s get Cracking

I want you to close your eyes and imagine this: The smell of caramelized onion, candied apple, chorizo sausage, blended herbs and cheese all cooking together over a well-oiled sizzling skillet with Burnbrae farm-fresh eggs...heavenly, isn't it?

Now picture the kitchen packed with 20 foodie bloggers, Farm owners, social media experts and basically a lot of people salivating at the sight of this delicious food being prepared in front of them. That was the sight at Burnbrae Farms, when we were invited to learn about the company, their products and their overall passion for egg production.

Owner and Chef, Seth O’Hara from the Brockberry Grill was on hand with his fabulous assistant Stewart Smith, to discuss cooking techniques, recipes, and his favourite tips on cooking with Burnbrae eggs. 
On the menu:
·         Alsatian tart (derived from the Alsatian region in France)
·         The famous Brockberry poppy seed salad
·         Wedge salad topped with blue cheese, hard-cooked egg (which Seth used a ricer to spread evenly over the lettuce), roasted red peppers, tomatoes and olives.
·         A shallot, wild mushroom, garlic and feta omelette with a Peruvian splash
·         A caramelized onion and apple, with spicy chorizo sausage and aged cheddar omelette

I had the pleasure of tasting the chorizo omelette and poppy seed salad – which I cannot begin to do justice trying to describe in a blog.  The flavours that I experienced in each bite were incredibly tantalizing to the senses and made me look at eggs in a whole new light. Watching this dish created in front of me looked incredibly easy- something I could cook for my own family (and will!) and it took less than ten minutes.

Various bloggers from all over the province gathered to learn more about Burnbrae Farms and this special lunch- focusing on egg dishes, was a huge treat! If you are interested in trying these dishes, make sure you head into the Brockberry Grill, located on King Street East in Brockville, On. I have been in many times and have quite a few favourite dishes- now I have another to add to my list!

Thank you Burnbrae Farms, Brockberry Grill and Set the Barr (social media marketing) for inviting me to attend this wonderful event - I can’t wait to get cracking in the kitchen!