Farm-to-Table Musings


Red Exclamation Point - Sensitivity WarningWarning: This blog post is about our farm program, and talks about animals being killed.


by Ben Samann, General Manager

For almost a decade, Viamede has had a farm program. From the first day, the purpose was officially to provide food for the kitchen and interest for the guests. Unofficially, it’s been a way for guests, staff, and me, to remind ourselves on where meat comes from.

For me, raising turkeys, chickens, and pigs for meat has been a way to keep myself grounded. The restaurant industry is full of wasteful practices, and for many, there’s simply a financial incentive to not waste food. By raising pigs, I look at bacon in the garbage and see a small part of a pig that gave its life. If I’m going to eat meat, and source meat for hundreds of people, then I need to make responsible, educated choices on the ethics and my own personal feelings.

Any meat served in our restaurants is killed at a licensed abattoir, which means it’s properly inspected and certified. However, there are times when we kill animals on site, and staff are invited to learn the process, participate, and take a chicken home with them. This is entirely voluntary, and people come away with a much deeper understanding of where meat comes from, and why that matters.

Each year, at Easter, we get our chicks for the season. We raise chickens for fun, mostly, rather than the eggs, and most years, we re-home them to local hobby farmers. The most common breeds we get are Silkies, Brahmas, and other heritage breeds, but this year, we got Cornish Cross, a classic meat chicken. They grow almost too fast for their own bodies, and after a few weeks, are ready for the table.

Recently our sous-chef Mandy, groundskeeper Brad, and I, went to the farm and killed our chickens. It’s not something I enjoy in the least, and it prompts a lot of thinking – hence this blog post.

For a while now, Chef Kyle, Mandy and I have been talking about meat and what it means. We all see it very similarly – meat can be delicious and a fantastic part of a meal, but too often, we end up with flavourless, overbred and poorly cooked meat in a dish that really doesn’t need it. “Tofu’s a poor substitute for meat, but then, so is supermarket chicken.”

I cooked some chicken on the grill without seasoning, and you know what it tasted like? Nothing. If the whole flavour of the dish needs to be added anyway, what’s the point of having chicken in there?

For years now, we’ve worked with the idea that all dishes should be vegan, gluten-free, and nut-free unless there’s a good reason for them not to be – we don’t use beef stock in our soups or flour in our gravies, for example. This makes it easy to accommodate guests with most of our menu, but it’s also highlighted how easy it is to work without these things in many cases. Obviously, our creamy pasta has cream and cheese, our burger is all beef, and our pork chop is amazing pork from the pigs we raised on the property.

Meat should be a feature. We should be sourcing the best meat we can get, and using it in ways where it really stands out. If it doesn’t stand out, we should look at replacing it.

As time goes on, I imagine we’ll be learning more and more about this. In the meantime, it’s a lot of musing, playing, and learning.

Thanks for listening.


Canada Day Fireworks in the Kawarthas

Looking for a spot to take in a fireworks show on Canada Day (Monday, July 1, 2019)? Check out these family-friendly locations in the Kawarthas:

Bobcaygeon

Event Website
Fireworks Location: Bobcaygeon Beach Park
Start Time: 10:00 p.m.

Not only will there be fireworks, but you can enjoy free admission to an all-day Canada Day party at the Bobcaygeon Community Center/Fair Grounds.

Buckhorn

Event Website
Fireworks Location: Buckhorn Community Centre
Start Time: 10:00 p.m.

Family fun will be taking place from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. At 8:00 p.m., music, snacks, and crafts lead up to the fireworks show.

Hastings

Event Website
Fireworks Location: Banks of the Trent River
Start Time: Dusk

All day activities are taking place in Campbellford, Warkworth, and Hastings.

Lakefield

Event Website
Fireworks Location: Isabel Morris Park
Start Time: Dusk

From 3:00 p.m. onwards, enjoy a petting zoo, face painting, children’s games and activities, live music, and more.

Minden

Event Website
Fireworks Location: Minden Fairgrounds
Start Time: Dusk

Activities throughout the day are taking place downtown, across the bridge, at the cultural centre, as well as the fairgrounds.

Omemee

Event Website
Fireworks Location: Omemee Beach Park
Start Time: Dusk

The annual Omemee Lions Ducktona 750 duck derby & BBQ starts at 1:00 p.m. at the Omemee boat launch. Afterwards, there will be live music and a kids free BBQ until the fireworks begin.

 


Viamede’s Summer Bucket List

Summer is officially here (anyone else ready to say so long to that cold and rainy spring?)! School’s out, long weekends await, and cottaging season is on. We put together our top 5 picks to check off your summer bucket list – Viamede style.

Feed Farm Pigs

Guests can go to the Viamede Farm at any time to visit with our turkeys, ducks, chickens, and quail. If you come along for a farm tour in the afternoon (part of our recreation schedule), you can help feed our pigs! We’ll also tell you all about how our farm works, where eggs are collected, and let you cuddle with a silkie chicken (they are very silky).

Feed Pigs at Viamede Farm; located at Viamede Resort in the Kawarthas

Join a Wild Food Hunt

Come along with staff for a foraging expedition and learn more about how wild food can be used in your kitchen. With things like cattails, chives, wild berries, and greens, what we find might just be in tonight’s dinner menu. For the foodies, we also recommend a tasting at Mount Julian and one of our other activities like Pickling or Bread Making Class.

Cannonball into Stoney Lake

There’s nothing like a classic Canadian summer of enjoying life on the lake. While you can kick back and relax by the pool (no judgement here), we’ve included this on our bucket list because taking a big leap off the water trampoline and cannon-balling into the lake is too much fun.

Family friendly resort; Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas; Viamede Resort

Go Cycling

If you’ve brought your own wheels or want to borrow one of ours, there are some neat places to check out by bicycle! You can stick to the back roads and explore along Stoney Lake (Eels Creek, about a 9 km ride, has a great hiking trail). Head back up to Highway 28 (which has paved shoulders), and pedal to Burleigh Falls for a picnic by the lock.

Try Something New

Whether you’ve never fished, played disc golf, gone stand-up paddleboarding, or been tubing, we’ll help you say you did something totally new this summer.

 


Garlic Mustard Chimichurri Recipe

by Kyle Wagenblast, Executive Chef

Foraging is in full swing and while everyone is talking and raving about Wild Leeks (yes, they are amazing), we are diligently working on doing our part on another tasty, but invasive green: Garlic Mustard!

Garlic Mustard is an herb that was brought over by Europeans in the 1800s. It is high in Vitamin A and C, and it is very tasty. The leafs are tender and slightly bitter with tastes of mustard greens and garlic, while the flowers have a spicy horseradish flavour.

That being said, go out and do your part to combat this invasive herb! Pick as much as you can find and make yourself something delicious; Garlic Mustard Pesto is a crowd favourite, but seeing as BBQ season is upon us, let’s switch it up a little.

Chimichurri! The grass routes of this sauce are Argentinian and typically accompanies most cuts of beef. It can even be used as a marinade.

Garlic Mustard Chimichurri

Garlic Mustard Chimichurri Recipe

Ingredients
  • 2 cups Garlic Mustard leaves and flower buds, tightly packed
  • ½ cup diced red onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2 tbsp fresh lemon or lime juice
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp red pepper flakes (or more, to taste)
  • ½ cup good quality oil
Steps
  1. Add all ingredients except oil to food processor and pulse until just chopped.
  2. Slowly add oil and continue to pulse until all oil is incorporated.
  3. Scrape down sides of the bowl and pulse a few more times.
  4. You’re ready to go; enjoy! This makes an excellent sauce or marinade for beef.

A Newbie Goes Boating

by Nicole Rogerson, Marketing Manager

I finally had the chance to experience the joy that is boating on Stoney Lake.

Here’s the thing: I know absolutely nothing about boats. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been on a motorboat. Usually, my idea of boating involves paddling in a kayak or canoe.

On a recent Monday morning, I came into work and settled in at my desk to check emails and catch up from the weekend. We’d just gotten some silkie chicks who were calling the lobby their temporary home, so I grabbed my camera to go shoot a few pics (and say “awwww” repeatedly over the cute little balls of fluff). So far, a fairly typical day. Ben then asked if I’d yet been out on the lake. After answering no, this led to grabbing my hat and sunglasses and trotting down to the dock. Of all days to decide to wear a skirt to work!

As we headed out, I snapped some shots of the resort from the water which slowly shrank away out of sight. My head was on a constant swivel as we cruised towards Upper Stoney. We caught sight of turtles sunning themselves on rocks, an osprey swooping out of the trees, and peeped at the cottages along the shore. Ben pointed out spots where rock lurked just below the surface of the lake. These are easy to miss and can catch unfamiliar boaters off guard (Stoney Lake does its name justice!).

Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas

We went past East Syndicate Island, protected by the Kawartha Land Trust and the largest undeveloped island on the lake. After seeing Big Duck Pond (a very good fishing spot, according to Ben) and coasting through a narrow channel which I wouldn’t have thought passable, we headed back.

Boating Stoney Lake

What a glorious experience!

The water sparkling in the sunshine and the wind tossing your hair around. Admiring the stunning combination of rock and forest, not even sure if you’re looking at island or mainland. It reminded me of the 1000 Islands, with cottages perched on tiny islands and bends leading to small coves and bays.

Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas

On returning to Viamede, I grabbed some shots of the tin boats which are newly available for guests to rent. Back on dry land, Ben said: “Anytime you need water shots, you could just grab a tinny”. I looked dubiously at the boat. If I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been on a motorboat, you can imagine how many times I’ve been at the helm of one (zero, it’s zero). Something tells me that, by the end of summer, that number is going to increase.

 

Rent one of our tinny boats or go on a boating excursion with Ben as part of our summer recreation schedule.