by Alyssa Joynt
If you’ve ever visited Viamede, you will have spotted a white building with a green roof on your way in. Perched overlooking the lake, The Inn at Mount Julian was built in 1847 to welcome overnight travellers and loggers. Although it has been updated with modern day amenities such as electricity and indoor plumbing, the building has remained much the same, and as you step inside you know that you are in for an exciting experience.
As Viamede re-opened and welcomed the return of spring, I returned for my second season of work and my first shift at the timeless Mount Julian restaurant. The culinary experience at Mount Julian is all about the story. Each ingredient that goes into the 5, 7, or 9 course tasting menu, as well as the a la carte options, adds not only to the dish but also to the story that your meal has to share. I loved learning all about the stories that food can tell, and so I thought I would take you inside the walls of Mount Julian and give you a sample of an evening at the restaurant.
Recently, to celebrate the return of greenery to Viamede, Chef Alexander prepared a decidedly spring-themed meal that started off with an amuse-bouche nick-named the “spring bouquet”. Featuring all of the first things to pop out of the ground in spring time, pea shoots and cat tail were wrapped in wild leek that was foraged on Viamede property, and the bundle was topped with a drop of maple syrup, which made its entrance last month.
Right before the soup course was served, guests were treated to multi-grain baguette and house-made butter that was prepared with honey and sumac. Sumac is the bushy red plant that can be spotted all over, and the red buds, lending a distinctive citrus flavour, were what went in to making the delicious butter. Sumac also grows white flowers, but thankfully Chef avoided those – white buds are poisonous!
Once the bread disappeared, guests were treated to a blast of spring in the form of soup. Containing spinach and wild leek that was foraged on the property, the soup’s bright green colouring was reminiscent of the bright green that has returned to the Kawarthas after a long-lasting winter, and continued the spring theme of the meal.
Seared Manitoulin Island Rainbow Trout swam onto the scene for the next course. Viamede is situated in a wild-rice region, and so the trout was perched atop wild rice and cranberries, and was topped with a savoury cranberry jam (ten points if you caught my fish pun. Ten points if you noticed the second one.).
The salad was served next and perpetuated the spring theme through its light lettuce, multi-coloured carrots, radishes, and red wine and shallot dressing. It was followed by the main course, which was beef wrapped in Viamede bacon. Viamede has a farm on-site, and our happy, adventurous, attention-loving pigs enjoy a happy and well-fed lifestyle before they make their way onto our plates in a sustainable and locavore-approved farming practise. The beef was accompanied by caramelized mashed potatoes and topped with mushrooms and horseradish sprouts that were sprouted in Viamede’s own herb garden.
To finish off the night, dessert was a flourless torte-brownie hybrid with sour cream and a maraschino cherry made at Viamede. The cherries come from Niagara, and they are drenched in maraschino liquer on-site. The work that goes into their creation comes out in their delicious and fresh flavour.
For each course, every ingredient was carefully picked to be local, fresh, and delicious. Each piece added something to the story of spring, and ultimately to the story of Mount Julian. If it took a page of writing to describe just one five-course meal in the most concise detail, imagine the culinary adventures and the exciting stories that await you on your next visit to Mount Julian.
I hope to see you soon!