When I was first asked to get on a bus, drive four hours to PEI for lunch, and then drive back home again…I thought it sounded NUTS!
And then…I thought about it a little further.
I mean, really…four hours on a bus with a few other bloggers where I can chat and catch up…brainstorm on a few collaborations…time to pound out a few drafts on my computer and get a little time away from the office…it started sounding a lot better.
Throw in the fact that Chef Michael Smith would be preparing the lunch…and I was completely in.
It was, indeed, a long day. A long, awesome, glorious, delicious, wonderful day that had us loaded in a bus at 8 a.m in order to arrive at The Inn at Bay Fortune for lunch.
And what a lunch it was!!!
Challenged by the The Barley Council of Canada to make an entire menu based around barley…Chef Michael Smith and his staff did a spectacular job.
On arrival, we were greeted at the “open fire pit” on the front lawn by Chef himself, as he told us what to expect for the next few hours and introduced us to the staff and surroundings. He chatted about his Inn, purchased a little over a year ago. Essentially, they are a certified organic farm nestled on 8 acres of beauty by the sea. They grow everything they serve (except for some citrus and bananas) in beautiful veggie and herb gardens, then cook it all with live fire. The tables are set as “communal” or “family style” tables with the idea that you pull up a chair and join in on the conversation. As chef says, it’s “straight up, simple, farmhouse cooking.”
For starters, we were treated to two dishes…Fortune Bay Oysters (with hop scented bloody mary ice) paired with a Keith’s White IPA, and Pork Belly Tacos (with a lentil puree and nasturtium chimichurri) paired with PEI Brewing Company’s “Setting Day” Saison.
And yes…it was all as wonderful as it sounds and in fact, I have discovered my new favourite beer (if only I can figure out how to get it from PEI!)
We explored a little, enjoyed the views from the Inn and chatted amongst ourselves, enjoying a third brew as we opened a cask of Upstreet Brewery’s APA “Do-Gooder” and chatted with Angeline, a Certified Cicerone (which is sort of like a Sommelier but for Beer!) Angeline was absolutely lovely and full of information…and in her other life, she’s a wonderful Labor and Deliver nurse! Follow her on Twitter to find out where the best craft beer lives!
After enjoying a little time outside, we headed inside to take a look around and settle in for a three course lunch.
We began with the most delicious wood-oven baked naturally-fermented barley bread served with browned and whipped butter.
From there, we enjoyed Barley Hay Smoked Seawater Cured Salmon with a Green Bean Cabbage Slaw paired with Upstreet Brewing’s “80 Bob” Scottish Export Ale.
For the main dish, the most perfectly prepared Smokehouse Duck on a bed of Barley Chanterelle Porridge, Stewed Tomatoes, Summer Squash and Broccoli…paired with Pumphouse Biere de Garde.
THE DUCK WAS TO DIE FOR…perfectly seasoned and delicious mixed with the earthy taste of the barley and fresh autumn veggies.
At this point, I was STUFFED…but not so much that I couldn’t enjoy a dessert of Barley Bread Pudding topped with Barley Malt Ice Cream, Barley Brittle and Fresh Blueberries.
The day was a delight and as for Chef Michael Smith…he was everything you might imagine and more. Genuinely interested in every step of the meal, he obviously and proudly treats his brand with a great amount of respect down the very last detail. He was quick to educate and offer a kind word and seemed genuinely interested in the people who sat around his table…taking a moment at the end of the meal to thank us for coming, thank the fabulous farmers who grow our wonderful bounty, and chat about barley.
In his words…
A HUGE thank you to National PR for inviting me out to this amazing #GoBarley luncheon with the Barley Council of Canada. While we drove through three provinces in one day…it was well worth the trip and adventure to meet such an extraordinary man and enjoy a little time in his kitchen…to learn about whole grains of barley…along with the fermented kind.