Prince Edward County Taste Trail – A pretty awesome weekend
Prince Edward County is maybe a one hour drive from Kingston but the culinary world it offers is definitely worth the drive. I am not sure how Picton, with a population of about 4000, supports so many high end food vendors and artists. Kingston, in comparison, has 117 000 people but somehow, we can’t get out of the Cambodian, sushi, cheap Asian food rut. I often feel that I need to qualify my recommendations to people who are new to Kingston. “That place has great fish… for Kingston.”
Prince Edward County has so many vendors that are simply outstanding. J and I decided to check out the Prince Edward County Taste Trail which is a list of 31 food/wine/cheese vendors interspersed through the county. The website, very simply titled www.tastetrail.ca is useful and provides a nice map to all the vendors. Below is a summary of the places we hit in two days. Click here if you want to read my previous post about Harvest, which is also part of the Taste Trail.
East and Main is located in Wellington which is about a 20 minute drive from Picton where we were staying. The main street is pretty small but there is a really cool wooden children’s playground overlooking the water close by. The interior of East and Main is warm and comfortable. They have a small patio on the side which at night looked very romantic, lit 100% by tabletop candles underneath a white tarp.
This is the Handmade gnocchi, Millcreek peas, mushrooms, speck, feta, romesco sauce for $12. Interesting texture in the gnocchi: pan-fried so that it was crispy but soft in the middle. Some nice saltiness in the speck but I wish there was a bit more romesco sauce to add some clarity to this rich dish.
This is the Panko crusted Harrison perch fillets and fresh tartar sauce for $12. Really expensive for 2 pieces of fish! The panko was nice and the fillets were lightly fried. The perch was soft and delicious. Other than price, this was great. This is the Pan crisp artic char, colcannon, cremed corn sauce, bacon for $24. Really nicely cooked fish, moist and tender in the middle with a crisp skin. The fish was fatty and delicious. The creamed corn was particularly enjoyable but J explains to me that is because of the cream. I really enjoyed my fish.
J had the House smoked pork chop, scallion corn bread pudding, charred onion and green tomato chutney for $23. The pork chop was very smokey and delicious. It was juicy but a little over cooked. The chutney was pretty smokey too. Again I really enjoyed tasting this dish.
We finished the meal with the blueberry creme brulee. There were nice big plump blueberries mixed into the creme brulee which added tartness. I really enjoyed my meal at East and Main. I like that they only have about 14 dishes on the menu but they really do each one well. I would definitely come back.
East and Main, 270 Main St. Wellington Prince Edward County, Ontario, 613-399-5420. eastandmain.ca
The Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company is relatively new. I was struck by their innovation and dedication to being environmentally friendly. They don’t keep their own sheep/goats in the area but they use a wind turbine, they are Bullfrog powered, they have really interesting coils in the ground to help heat the place in the winter and cool the place in the summer, they have created a wetland to dispose of their waste water and they funnel water from the roof to supply all the grey water in the building. Very cool and very daring to start a new cheese company with so much forward thinking.
The cheese sampling was amazing. All their cheeses were cut and displayed. There wasn’t any pressure to buy (as is often the case when you sample things) and the girls behind the counter really knew their products well. One oafish biker in particular kept asking for a sharp cheese. They would direct him to the Cape Vessey (which was my personal favourite). He’d ask for sharper. They’d keep directing him. In the end, he bought the Cape Vessey but people like that really annoy me.
Fifth Town Artisan Cheese Company, 4309 County Road #8 , Picton, ON, K0K 2T0, (613) 476-5755, www.fifthtown.ca
The County Cider Company was the only place on the trail that sold cider. We walked up to the bar and had a super cheap tasting: $1 for 3 x 1oz samples. If you were to sit in the patio/restaurant, it would cost you $5 so I’d highly recommend getting the tasting while standing at the bar. If you are inclined to eat, as we were, go to the back after you are done your tasting.
This is the See Four (four appetizers inspired by mood) for $19. The pulled pork was sweet, salty, and moist. The scallops could have been seared a little more but they were not overcooked. The olive tapenade was super salty and very sour. I didn’t like it balanced with the rest of the appetizers. The tomato salad was simple and light. I really liked this platter as a light lunch.
County Cider Company, 657 Bongards X RD, County Road 8, RR 4, Picton, Ontario, K0K 2T0, 613-476-1022. www.countycider.com
The Black River Cheese Company is one of the older cheese establishments in the area. Sadly, I didn’t really enjoy the cheese that much. I didn’t find them as interesting and it felt more like a local supermarket than a true artisanal cheese company. That being said, they also sold Kawartha Ice Cream which is fantastic.
On the left, for $3-4, is my regular cone of Pralines and Cream. Salty. Sweet. Creamy. On the right for $2-3 is the kids cone of White Chocolate Raspberry. Almost no difference in size. Such a good deal. J really enjoyed the crispy bits of white chocolate.
Black River Cheese Company, 913 County Road 13, RR#2, Milford, ON K0K 2P0, 613-476-2575, www.blackrivercheese.com
Slickers is located on Main St in Picton and makes for a great stop after a day in Sandbanks Provincial Park on the beach. When I went with my coworkers after a day of sandcastle building, it was packed! I wish they had a more efficient order/payment/ice cream system because it was pretty hard to get in and out of the shop.
Slickers Ice Cream, 271 Main St, Prince Edward, ON, (613) 393-5433, www.slickersicecream.com
Overall, a fantastic day of eating, drinking, and eating again in Prince Edward County. I’ve neglected the wineries mostly because I haven’t had a VQA wine I actually enjoyed that much. Also… the more you drink, the less you can drive and you don’t get to try as many different foods! Everyone should really try the taste trail. You won’t be sorry.