Spring Has Arrived

by Bob the Gardener

April showers bring May flowers! At this time of year, it’s time to prepare flower beds and lawns for spring. The time that you spend in prepping will help your plants thrive and makes maintenance easier later. Here are some simple steps for getting your gardens ready.

Flower Beds
  1. Remove all leaves.
  2. Cut back perennials if required.
  3. Clean all leaves from Hostas if present.
  4. Prune shrubs (flowering).
Lawn Care
  1. Remove leaves from the lawn.
  2. Around the end of April, cut the lawn on a high setting (3-3.5 inches).
  3. Overseed lawn with grass seed; by overseeding, it will help with the weeds.
  4. Apply fertilizer to the lawn (high nitrogen, e.g. 24-5-5). To save a step, you can use a farm fertilizer seeder with maximum 50% fertilizer and 50% grassy seed.
  5. Always water after applying or seed on a day when rain is in the forecast.
Seed Preparation

It’s time to start seeds inside for your garden. For a vegetable garden, start your tomatoes, peppers, cabbage, and lettuce. For flower beds, start seeding blooms such as marigolds, dahlias, and zinnias. Use a good seed-starting soil for your seeds. When seeding:

  1. Fill container with soil.
  2. Water with warm water.
  3. After seeding, cover container with plastic.
  4. Remove plastic when you see plants.
  5. Keep plant soil moist.
  6. Place seeds in a sunny location.

Bob will be leading garden tours as part of our summer recreation schedule.


Spring Cleaning at Viamede

by Ben Samann, General Manager

My family has a long tradition of spring cleaning. There’s something so satisfying to seeing the first signs of spring, going outside in a t-shirt, taking a breath of (what seems like) warm spring air, then dashing into some unseen corner of the house to purge whatever’s accumulated there.

Both at home and at Viamede, we’re often surprised by what comes out, really.

Every year, Viamede closes in April to get ready for summer (we will be open for the Easter weekend!). Usually we do a lot of small projects we never get to otherwise, as well as just a general property clean up.

This year, we’re doing it a bit differently.

I’ve owned Viamede for over 8 years now, and honestly, there are crawl spaces and storage rooms I probably go into less than once a year. We have outbuildings that probably served a purpose at one point, but they’ve just been sitting here for a decade, housing wildlife and… stuff.

So, amid a dozen other projects (replacing some railings, building a more permanent sun shelter, changing our lock system, painting, staining, and similar), we’re also doing our first (annual?) yard sale, to raise money for Kawartha Land Trust.

We’re selling over 100 dining room chairs we no longer need, tables, old tools, mismatched wrenches, lamps, and just about anything else you can imagine. We have random odds and ends that came from the top shelf of a storage room that have been here longer than I have. There are kitchen implements we bought last year and just never used. There’s a box of St Patrick’s Day decor, and some oddly over-sized cocktail glasses (click here for event information).

Anything we don’t sell will be donated to Habitat For Humanity, or other charitable shops.

Now, as to our big projects for the season:
  • We are long-overdue to rebuild our railing on the second floor. We’re just waiting for the glass to arrive.
  • After a few years of an electronic keycard lock system, we’re ready to move on. That system is being replaced with a keypad lock, which will reduce plastic waste and cut down on guests who have lost their keys needing to find us.
  • We are getting rid of our umbrellas at the pool, and replacing them with a permanent shade structure. Additionally, we may or may not be able to make some changes to the pool fence to open up the view a bit more.
  • We’re replacing our conference tables (currently plywood) with solid maple tops, as well as replacing the bar in 1885 with a solid maple end grain butcher-block.
  • Plus lots more spring cleaning. Keep an eye on our Instagram to stay in the loop on what’s going on!

Stoney Lake Nostalgia

by Nicole Rogerson, Marketing Manager

I love history and all things vintage and retro. Podcasts that talk about little known facts in history, old books, antique shops, history documentaries about the way people lived, the crackle of a record that’s been well-loved and much-played before; such joy!

Photo from 1960s showing man and young boy with fish at Viamede Resort

This is all to try and explain my delight when I came across a folder containing old photos of Stoney Lake and Viamede Resort. It’s so neat to look at the way people dressed, the typography on the signs, even old postcards sent to loved ones with a message written in beautiful script. The original Instagram shares in a way!

One of the things I love about the Stoney Lake area is that it retains a lot of those nostalgic qualities. The classic Canadian summer experience of cottaging, boating, fishing, swimming, and enjoying good food and good company has remained unchanged. There are cottages that have been kept in a family for generations, lovingly maintained and filled with memories. Neighbours connect over the shared experience of life on the lake.

Something I enjoy about working at Viamede is that it has kept much of its historic charm; and we’re proud of it. Some of the floors are crooked, none of the rooms or cottages share a floor plan, the wood paneling in Mount Julian is stunning, and the 19th century chapel creaks as you walk through. Not that I could give up my modern amenities like internet or electricity, but I like to imagine what it was like when it was first built. I wonder about the people who have been through these halls since and what their stories may have been. A guest is coming with their family to Viamede this summer and shared that they have an old family connection to the resort which has inspired the visit. I’m so excited to connect and learn more!

Black-and-white photo of Viamede Resort in the 1950sMy job, simply put, is to share Viamede’s story. It’s one that has been unfolding for a long time. If you come to the resort, certainly take advantage of all the activities and amenities (um, hello indoor pool!), but it’s also well worth taking some time to explore the historic charms that make this place so unique. The massive 450-year-old Viking Oak. As I mentioned previously, the 1800s chapel. Mount Julian, originally built between 1865 and 1875. There’s much to discover if you let this regal place speak.

If you have old photos of Viamede or Stoney Lake you’d like to share, I’d love to see them and hear the story behind the capture!


Conferences Done Right

by Kayleigh Hindman, Operations Manager

You might be asking yourselves a very, very, important question right now. “Why would I host my corporate event at Viamede?” And its a perfectly fair question… so we’d like to tell you our top five reasons for retreating at Viamede Resort for your business that we think you’d like to know. Every conference centre you talk to is going to tell you they have meeting rooms, snack delivery, and a pool. We’ve got that too, but we decided to tell you about everything boldly different we do to make Viamede your personal corporate meeting hosts.

First, we think you’ll like our simplified billing process.

We know that you don’t know all the details; Janice from accounting will probably bail, someone has a newborn they can’t be separated from, and your CEO wants everyone to bunk up except them. Don’t worry. We have you covered. We offer seasonal rates based on single occupancy (your CEO taking up all the space they want in a king bed) and double occupancy (you and your closest work buddy in a room with two doubles). Take how many people you have coming, how many double rooms you want, and how many single rooms you want and we multiply it out. We’re not going to penalize you for Janice and we’ll let that newborn baby hang out at your conference if that’s what you’d like.

Plus that magical price includes almost everything you can think of: meeting room, protector, flip chart – yep, yep and yep. Meals – try snacks too – you work hard you could use a snack. Caffeine? We’ll have you so caffeinated, you won’t ever want to make it back to those rooms you’re sleeping in.

Second, our food is pretty great.

We’re not going to give you run of the mill triangle cut sandwiches that are unlabeled, you’re not sure if you’re eating chicken or turkey, and the bread kind of tastes like the fridge it has so clearly been stored in… no, not us, because we like food and we want you to like food. We’re going to get you fish and chips, homemade potato salad, pizzas, pastas, and we’ll work around your dietary restrictions. Your breakfast will consist of eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, toast, and it’s included in the cost of your room package.

Third, location, location, location.

Tired of people sneaking out on team building to go catch a movie? We’re conveniently located 30 minutes away from the closest theatre. Your employees will be in a remote location together. Makes it much harder to escape your team building plans. You want everyone to go kayaking? We’ll take them kayaking. If a guided nature hike is more your style, let’s show you the Viking Oak. If you think you’d enjoy learning to bar tend and enjoying an adult beverage by the fire instead, let us show you all the tricks we have up our sleeves. Think your group would benefit from spending less time together? It’s a pretty big resort and they’re welcome to wander.

We can be as involved, or uninvolved, as you’d like us to be. If you all want to play board games in 1885 and chat – that’s fine. If you want the staff to overload you with the worst jokes you’ve ever heard, let me tell you, we’ve got plenty of dad jokes to share.

Fourth, we plan like pros.

You stress about this yearly, twice yearly, quarterly, whatever shindig. We know you do. Let us take that stress off of you. We will get your rooming list and assign the rooms for you, we will work with your dietary restrictions, we will get you an appropriate sized room. You ran fifteen minutes late for team building because you we’re really enjoying your quarterly reports? We’re not worried, we can plan around that. You want lunch at 2 in the afternoon? That’s fine with us. You need an early breakfast? Alright; let us know when you are waking up so we can have the coffee brewing. Your group is really into running? We won’t go for a run with you, but we’ll happily point you in the right direction.

You’ll look like you’re a pro who’s been planning this all year, and we’ll even tell your boss it was all you.

Fifth, we have the best staff.

Whether you want us involved in your team building or not we will be around to see you through. We’re the nice folks in blue shirts sneaking into your meeting room to check on your coffee, dropping off your snack, troubleshooting the trails, letting you know about the weather patterns in the area, and where to find things you might have forgotten to pack. We have a secret hoard of markers if yours runs out, we know where the coolest parts of the property are, we know how to pour a pint and tell a joke, and we know the importance of teamwork to your business – because that’s our business.

So if you’re still wondering why you would pick Viamede for your company? We’re wondering why you wouldn’t.


For rates and more information on retreats and conferences at Viamede, click here.


How to Grow Basil Indoors

by Bob the Gardener

Basil is an annual herb that can be found in dishes all around the world. This is an easy plant to grow indoors and it will thrive in a sunny location with regular watering. The following steps will help you grow your own basil indoors.

Growing Basil Indoors

  1. Start seeds a few weeks before the last frost.
  2. Fill your pots with a good quality potting soil.
  3. Pre-soak the soil and sow the seeds 1/4″ deep.
  4. Place the plant pots in a sunny location.
  5. Keep the soil moist at all times; if the soil dries out, it will kill the seeds or seedling germination.
  6. Basil seedlings will take approximately 5-12 days to grow.
Transplanting Seedlings

Seedlings can be transplanted in a 4″ pot after they have two (2) sets of leaves.

Watering

As a general rule, whenever the soil starts to look dry it can be watered. Soil should always be moist, but never soggy.

Companion Planting

When basil is planted near tomatoes, this will repel flies and mosquitoes and will enhance the flavour.

Basil Varieties

Sweet Basil: Medium sized aromatic leaves.

Thai Basil: Used in Thai cooking, the leaves are anise flower. It holds flavour well when cooked.

Cinnamon Basil: The leaves retain the spicy sweet flavour of cinnamon.

Italian Large Leaf Basil: The leaves grow 4″ long and the flavour is sweet and mild.

Purple Basil: Dark opal basil is a beautiful plant with purple leaves and a sweet flavour.


Bob can often be found maintaining the Viamede gardens during the summer and enjoys leading garden tours for guests. He will be holding Planting Classes as part of our March Break activity schedule.


Cooking with Kids

by Chef Kyle Wagenblast

Cooking with children can be challenging, but rewarding in so many ways. It’s a great way to spend time together with your kids and give them a chance to learn and obtain hands-on experiences.

In baking we use a dash of science, a pinch of math, a cup of patience, a tablespoon of confidence, and lbs of accomplishment. We use science by getting the yeast to bloom and start eating sugars; this creates gasses that help our bread to rise. We use math to determine ratios of how much liquid to dry ingredients we need, and to adapt our ingredients if we decide to double or half our recipe. Patience is needed to give the dough proper time to proof and rise. We use confidence as we read through all our steps and know it will turn out, as well as afterwards in knowing that we can change subtle things and still have it work out. The more you do the more confident you become. As for accomplishment, well, who doesn’t like a fresh loaf of bread!

Don’t forget there are also many quick breads that can be made such as banana bread, pancakes, or muffins. These are great fun to make, and can be a better choice for younger kids with shorter attention spans since there is no proofing time required. Just a quick mix and you’re ready to go!

East Coast White Bread

Photo of freshly basked loaf of bread cooling on a wire rack.

This is a Recipe adapted from a friend on the east coast for a traditional white bread. These instructions will walk you through making the bread by hand.

Ingredients
  • 5 cups or 635 grams all purpose flour
  • 1 package or 7 grams traditional active dry yeast (not instant yeast)
  • 2 teaspoons or 10 grams of fine salt, good quality
  • 3 tablespoons or 45 grams sugar
  • 3 tablespoons or 55 grams butter, melted (need only 45 grams, use the rest to grease proofing bowl)
  • 2 cups or 290 grams milk, lukewarm
Instructions
  1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar into 1/2 cup lukewarm water; sprinkle yeast over surface of water. Let stand for about 15 minutes until yeast foams well, then stir to combine.
  2. Combine 3 cups of flour, 2 tablespoons sugar and salt into large bowl. Add prepared yeast, melted butter and warm milk. Using a wooden spoon, mix for 4 to 5 minutes until mixture is smooth.
  3. Slowly incorporate remaining 2 cups flour, mixing gradually until soft dough forms and leaves sides of bowl. You may need to use a little more or a little less flour; add only enough flour to form a dough that releases from sides of bowl and remains slightly tacky, but can be handled with your bare hands.
  4. Turn the dough out onto work-surface to knead; knead for 8 minutes, then form into a ball and place in a large greased bowl.
  5. Cover dough and proof in a warm place for one hour until the dough doubles in size.
  6. Punch dough down and knead a few minutes by hand before resting for another 10 minutes.
  7. Grease 2 medium loaf pans; divide dough into 4-6 equal portions. Form each division into a ball, placing 2 or 3 balls of dough in each loaf pan.
  8. Cover with clean tea towel; proof until about 2 inches above rim of loaf pan (approximately 2 hours, depending upon room temperature).
  9. Bake at 350 F for 30-40 minutes depending on size of pans, or until loaves are golden and sound hollow when tapped.
  10. Turn loaves onto wire rack to cool; brush tops with melted butter to soften top crust.

Chef Kyle will be leading bread making classes as part of our March Break activity schedule.


March Break Activities in the Kawarthas

by Nicole Rogerson, Marketing Manager

March Break is right around the corner! We’ve got lots planned here at Viamede as part of our March Break experience, but if you’re looking to venture out into the local area there are plenty more sights and experiences to be had. Here are five things to do and see in the Kawarthas.

.

Free Thursday Nights at the Canadian Canoe Museum

Thursdays, 5-8 PM

The Canadian Canoe Museum opens its doors for free admission on Thursday evenings. This national heritage centre explores the canoe’s significance in Canada through interactive galleries and displays.

https://canoemuseum.ca

.

Dinosaur Exhibit 2019

March 10-13, 10 AM – 5 PM

The Indian River Reptile Zoo will be holding a dinosaur exhibit with over 24 animatronic dinosaurs that move and roar! There will be plenty of other activities and fun for the kids. You can save $5 on admission by bringing a drawing of your favourite dinosaur.

https://thekawarthas.ca/event/dinosaur-exhibit-2019

.
Brent and Sarah’s Comedy Magic Show

March 10, 2 PM

A show that combines magic, music, comedy, and gets the audience involved in clean entertainment.

https://academytheatre.ca/events/brent-and-sarahs-comedy-magic-show/

.

Buckhorn Maplefest 2019

March 16-17, 9:30 AM – 4 PM

The McLean’s annual Maplefest provides fun for the whole family with wagon rides, pancakes drizzled in fresh maple syrup, and learning how syrup is made.

http://mcleanberryfarm.com/events/maplefest/

.

Peterborough Fibre Arts Festival & Sale

March 16, 10 AM – 4 PM

Check out a variety of vendors and handmade goods at the 9th annual Fibre Arts Festival & Sale. The entry fee is $5 and children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult.

https://www.facebook.com/events/364920594063596/


What’s On this March Break

by Ben Samann, General Manager

One of our core principles here is that parents are happiest when the kids are tired out, and kids are happiest when they get to run free without parental supervision (staff supervision provided!).

Welcome to March Break at Viamede.

As always, we don’t really know what the weather will bring in March; we may be skating on the lake in a blizzard, or the first of the flowers may be coming up already. Either way, we’re ready with a week full of weather-proof programming for everyone. Daily supervised kids activities give parents some time off, and daily beer/wine/whiskey tastings help the adults unwind.

Take a look at our March Break activities:

2019 Viamede Resort March Break Schedule

And that’s just the stuff we’re helping you to do. Some guests like to make their own schedule and that’s okay too! We have nine (9) kilometres of hiking trails, and can even lend you one of our resort Goldens (Toby and Daisy) to bring along on your hike. Our indoor/outdoor pool is the perfect spot to relax or meet friends for an impromptu volleyball game.

Four images side by side that show a Foosball table overlooking Stoney Lake, two people sitting by a roaring fire with socks, a young boy tubing down a snow hill, and an indoor pool.

March Break is a special time at Viamede. It’s the last of winter, and the first of spring, and often an interesting mix of both. Snowmen and skating mix with sunny days and puddle jumping, and we’re ready for all of the above.

It’s a time for kids, and parents who want to be kids. We do what we can; our cooking classes are popular for everyone, and Bob the Gardener will be helping people get their gardens started. Kids can go home with their own plant and adults can learn how their hostas can do better.

We know that the key to happy parents is tired kids, so we always build in some time for kids to be kids: pool volleyball, cooking classes, gardening workshops, and even pizza and a movie night to give parents a quiet dinner to themselves.

Probably the most popular hangout, rain or shine, is 1885 – giant Scrabble, a large fireplace with cozy armchairs, and all-day snacks. The kids can play Foosball while the parents sip Scotch. Sit by the fire and play a board game, or challenge friends to a game of darts. Have another cappuccino and wait out the storm, or head out into the sunshine.


Preserving Summer

Strawberries being preserved

by Alyssa Joynt

As the lake begins to freeze over and the soft glittering blanket of snow descends over the rooves of the cottages, icing the trees and turning Viamede into a scene out of a mythical Christmas town, it can be hard to remember that just a few short months ago there were people playing on the water trampoline and fresh fruit on the tables. The bright and loud colours of summer can get lost in the wintery quiet, but Viamede has a secret for keeping the flavour of summer alive.

You may have noticed jars on the mantle in 1885 and Mount Julian and passed them off for decoration. All of those jars, however, are preserves, made right here at Viamede to help bring the memories of summer to the table throughout the year. This past July, I got to watch Chef preserve strawberries!

All of the berries come from nearby McLean Berry Farm. It doesn’t get more local then this! Before talking to Chef, I always thought of preserves in the form of jams and jellies. Chef, however, chooses to preserve the berries whole. When asked why, his answer was simple. Whole berries are much more versatile, and “in the dead of winter, when you have these freshly preserved strawberries, it’s just lovely”. As Chef explained, “Strawberries are such an Ontario ingredient… strawberries remind me of Ontario summer more than any other food”, and bringing the delicious flavour of local Ontario berries into a mid-January meal is the perfect way to harken back to the highlights of summer. These strawberry preserves will mostly be used for desserts, because the sugar used as a preservative adds a lot of sweetness, but they can also be used as an accompanying sauce on a cheese plate or in a salad dressing.

So how do the berries get preserved, exactly? The process can take a few days, and involves mixing the berries with sugar to really pull out the flavour, as well as cycles of heating and cooling until the berries are tender and can be strained out of the liquid. The liquid is brought to a hot temperature by itself and any foam is skimmed off, and then the berries are poured into sterilized jars with the hot syrup ladled overtop. The jars are then boiled to seal them and keep out any contamination- if the jars are properly sealed, the preserves can last for a year or more!

Strawberries aren’t the only thing that Chef preserves, though. As he noted, “the more local produce we preserve, the happier we’ll be!”. Viamede’s focus on local ingredients lends well to preserving the landscape around us, so it is always the goal to preserve aspects of each season. Some of the highlights of early summer include garlic, strawberries, raspberries, and cattails, and of course the wild blueberries that are such an iconic ingredient in the Kawarthas. Later summer features tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, and the fall harvest focuses in on squash, apples, and potatoes. By preserving aspects of each season, every meal can remain centered around the local theme throughout the year, while also painting a picture of the seasons and the culinary landscape of the Kawarthas.


Memories of Summer 2018

by Kayleigh Hindman, Operations Manager

The end of the year is almost here and as I sit in the verandah avoiding the paperwork I need to do, I look over the lake and think of the drastic change we’ve had from summer to the winter ice that now coats vast Stoney Lake. Although it seems like a distant memory at this point, I can’t help but to think back to the warmest day of summer and have myself a good laugh.

It was hot. It was so hot you wouldn’t believe how hot it was. Ben was off somewhere enjoying his car air conditioning and I was left alone on what can only be drastically over exaggerated as the hottest day of summer. It was just after Labour Day and I had openly decided I was going to shirk some responsibilities for awhile (#treatyourself). So I did what any reasonable resort staff member would do… I stole my boss’s boat.

If you’re going to keep reading, I feel I should take the chance to defend myself a little. I’m actually pretty smart (in the next few paragraphs you’re going to doubt this) and fairly reliable (you’ll doubt this too).

But what exactly did my smart self do while grandtheft-boating? I changed into a bathing suit I keep in my car, located my boss’s boat keys, and informed our amazing front desk team that I was running away and if I didn’t return not to worry about it… then I ran back to the office and plugged in my dying phone. Next, I untied the Boston Whaler, hopped aboard, and headed out to the middle of the lake. I spent an hour jumping off the boat, swimming around, splashing about, chasing the boat, and repeating before a harsh wind started to blow and I decided, begrudgingly, I should probably be doing my job.

So I climbed back on board, folded in the swim ladder, did a quick check to make sure I hadn’t lost anything, and threw my uniform back on (to deny that this mid-day sojourn ever happened). I started the boat as the wind got rougher, and thought to myself, “if I capsize Ben’s boat I am doomed.” I decided to motor out and make my turn back to the resort between a couple islands to break up some of the waves – see, I said I was actually pretty smart! Halfway through my turn I was hit by a massive wave. Who knew Stoney got tidal waves? Not me! And then the engine made a terrible beeping noise and suddenly cut out…

I put it in neutral and tried again – life for thirty seconds then nothing more – so I try again, and again, and again. It sputtered to life, beeped, died, and I repeated the cycle. Thinking back to my boater safety course, I grabbed the canoe paddle. Turns out I couldn’t exactly reach the water, nor could I really paddle a Boston Whaler with a canoe paddle – physics wins this round. So I sat there, pouting, as the waves pushed me towards a very, very, rocky bay. Using my recently useless paddle I managed to push myself away from the rocks and park the Whaler (it’s biggish boat) on a 4’ piece of dock. I jumped out of the Whaler, tied it as tightly as I possibly could to this itty bitty dock, and jumped out – now would be a good time to mention I left my sneakers on shore – to go looking for help.

First house, no one home, second house, no one home. I could hear kids playing in the next bay over but figured it might be wise to avoid terrifying small children at this point. I ran back to the boat thinking “clearly I’m doing something silly – maybe its not in neutral.” Started the motor – life for ten seconds – then the acceptance set in that I’m stranded two bays from work and ultimately doomed.

Suddenly, I saw her, this marvelous, lovely, amazing lady walking her dogs. I ran up to her and with little to no articulation introduced myself and explained the situation. She let me use her phone, so I called the resort, tell the front desk what happened, and sent them to get me another boating staff member to come rescue me. Meanwhile my savior and I got to talking and she says “Hey, I know a little about boats, want me to look at it?” Obviously, I said “yes, please!” so she grabbed a can of gas out of her garage and we headed down while discussing the first rule of boater safety (always bring a cell phone) and the ongoing hilarity of my situation.

On arrival at the boat, my new friend recognized A) my stolen boat is out of gas, B) it has a reserve tank, and she promptly hooked it up and as a team we managed to push me and the Whaler off the dock and into the lake. In unintended appreciation, I left behind one lonely canoe paddle that I informed her she could totally keep (if you’re reading this sorry about your paddle Ben).

As I came back towards the shore at Viamede, I saw the Sous-Chef waving at me from the dock; he helped tie me off then informed me he’s already called Ben and told him I broke the boat. At this point I started panicking – similar to when you throw a party in your parents’ house and they’re out of town and you’ve broken something – that kind of panic.

So I sat around, waiting, dreading the inevitable conversation. When Ben arrived back at Viamede, he asked what happened to which I responded “turns out you were out of gas” and he laughed so hard at me that I couldn’t help but laugh too. And this story of me getting ship wrecked is the highlight of my summer. The story I’ll tell everyone and the reminder of the importance of boater safety, cell phones, and the kind helpfulness of Stoney Lakers.


Winter Fishing

by Ben Samann, General Manager

As many of you know, I kinda like fishing. Kinda. In the spring, I go fly fishing for sunfish. In the summer, I cruise the lake for bass. In the fall, it’s muskie. A few times a year, I head to Bermuda to catch pathetically small fish off the dock. All told, I probably put in a few hundred hours a year fishing.

But now, it’s happened. Fishing is over, for a few months at least. I just got back from Bermuda, and the lake is frozen. Ice fishing holds little charm for me, so it’s time to hang my hat, and my fishing rods.

What do I do all winter? Aside from work, playing with Toby and Daisy, and getting to play with my aquariums? I keep myself excited by keeping my fishing gear in top shape. Come spring, I can grab it and go.

Here are the things I do annually, and if you like fishing, you should too:

Tackle box:

  • Empty and clean your tackle box – take out everything in there, and rinse the box. Make sure to let it air dry. Depending on the style of box, you may need a soft toothbrush to get into the corners.
  • Now that all your stuff is out of the tackle box, sort through it. Empty spools of line? Bits of plastic? Lures that were stuck in the same tire you caught? Throw out stuff you don’t need, wash the rest. Let it all air dry, then sort it back into the box.

Reel care:

  • Take a close look at each reel, give it a few spins and really get a feel for how it’s working.
  • Lube ’em up – go to a quiet room, and really listen and feel it. The mechanism should be smooth and quiet. If it’s not, pick up some reel oil (I use the pen type, which lets you carefully put single drops where you need them). Sometimes it’s internal, sometimes it’s in the top, or bottom, or wherever.
  • Rinse them off – use warm water, and maybe a drop of soap, to rinse off any grime.
  • Check your line – After a season out in the sun, the first 100′ of line are probably worse for wear. Strip that off, cut the line, then use a nail knot or similar to put new line on. (Tip: you will rarely need more than 100′ of line, and usually a lot less than that. You can spool a cheap “backing” line onto your reel for the bulk of it, and top it off with a premium line.)
  • Rods, nets, pliers, and other tools:
  • These mostly need a rinse and an inspection. Pliers may need a drop of oil if they’re a bit rusty

Lures:

The most important thing: sort. Everyone has way more lures than they use, so really look at the lures you used this year, and toss the rest in a drawer.

  • I do a lot of different types of fishing, so I end up with a few tackle boxes. Why keep my carp rigs in my bass tackle box if I don’t even have my rods with me?
  • Check the hooks – A good sharp hook is the key to a lot of fishing. I buy hooks in bulk, and keep a close eye on rust, bent hooks, or even lures that came with cheap hooks. Saltwater destroys hooks and split rings, so I tend to replace these at least once a year, depending on use.
  • Pick up a small diamond hook sharpener and give a quick once over to every hook. I use a fly tying vise to secure the hooks, but you don’t need one. I test my hooks on my thumb nail – a sharp hook should scratch your nail with almost no pressure.

Important note: be careful when throwing out hooks. I use empty plastic bottles to keep them from puncturing the bag or getting jammed in someone’s finger. 

Other stuff: 

There are lots of other things I do to keep myself excited. I research new techniques I want to try, consult lake charts to find contours I might not know about, and keep an eye out for sales on common supplies (those people who have come out with me know all about my obsession with whacky rigs – I usually find the bait for 30% off in the winter).

One thing I’ve learned over the years, and enjoy forgetting – you don’t need every lure in the books. You need the stuff you enjoy using. There are always countless lures to be found that look good, and my wall of lures attests to how few I use – the ones on the wall don’t usually end up in a tackle box. But… look! that lure looks really good!

That’s about it.

 

You can follow Ben’s exploits on Instagram @BenSamann.


December Events in the Kawarthas

by Jill Persson, Marketing Manager

Whether you live nearby, or you’re just in the area for the weekend, we encourage you to get out in the community and revel in the season’s sounds, sights and experiences. There is so much happening in the Kawarthas this month, the only drawback is deciding which ones to attend!

Here is my round-up of happenings for December (there’s something for every age)!

 

Friday, December 7

In From The Cold Christmas Concert at Market Hall in Peterborough

8:00 – 10:30 pm

This incredible Celtic Christmas concert features instruments like the harp, concertina, guitar, fiddle, Irish bouzouki, tin whistle and bodhran and sung in gorgeous wraparound harmony. Proceeds support YES Shelter for Youth and Families.

https://www.facebook.com/infromthecoldpeterborough/

 

Saturday, December 8

A Christmas Carol at Hutchison House Museum in Peterborough

2:00 – 4:00 pm

Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” is told by firelight in the museum’s historic Keeping Room. Dessert, coffee and tea will be served.

http://www.hutchisonhouse.ca/

 

The Peterborough Symphony Orchestra: Home For The Holidays at Showplace in Peterborough

7:30 pm

This light-hearted holiday concert features seasonal favourites, a carol sing and the Kawartha Youth Orchestra!

http://www.thepso.org/

 

Sunday, December 9

The Artisan Fair at Evinrude Centre in Peterborough

59 local artisans are selling a wide variety of handcrafted treasures. Free parking, wheelchair accessible, and guaranteed to cross some names of your Christmas list.

http://theartisanfair.ca/

 

A Child’s Christmas in Wales / The Gift of the Magi at Hutchison House in Peterborough

2:00 – 4:00 pm

Dylan Thomas’ “A Child’s Christmas in Wales” and O. Henry’s “The Gift of the Magi” are told by firelight in the museum’s historic Keeping Room. Dessert, coffee and tea will be served.

http://www.hutchisonhouse.ca/

 

Friday, December 14

Sing-A-Long Sound of Music at Showplace in Peterborough

7:00 – 9:00 pm

This is your chance to sing along to the most successful movie musical of all time! The movie will be shown on the big screen, and song subtitles are shown – make sure to warm up your vocal chords!

http://www.showplace.org/#

 

Little Britain Santa Claus Parade

7 :00 pm

 

Saturday, December 15

Peterborough Humane Society’s Christmas Open House and Bottle Drive in Peterborough

10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Drop in for some Christmas Cheer on December 15th from 10-2 and say hello to the animals in the care of Peterborough Humane Society. Support the bottle drive by bringing alcoholic bottles, cans, and bags.

 

Cuddles for Cancer Fundraising Tea Party and Luncheon in Lakefield

11:00 am – 1:00 pm

Christmas Tea and Luncheon to support Cuddles for Cancer and the True Meaning of Christmas Campaign. High Tea, presentation as well as a live and silent auction.

http://www.cuddlesforcancer.ca/

 

Victorian Christmas for Kids at Hutchison House Museum in Peterborough

1:00 – 3:00 pm

Get into the holiday spirit with special treats, hearth demonstrations, crafts, fun and more! Finish your Christmas shopping by checking out the selection of books and seasonal items in the gift shop.

http://www.hutchisonhouse.ca/

 

Focus Fair Indie Holiday Arts and Crafts Sale, Peterborough

11:00 am – 5:00 pm

This year’s show features a wide variety of local artists offering handmade paintings, mixed media art, crafts, jewellery, cards, seeds, treats and more. Support local artists, shop downtown & make this a handmade holiday!

http://www.facebook.com/events/2019323314829122/

 

Monday, December 17

Peterborough Singers “Handel’s Messiah” at Emmanuel United Church in Peterborough

7:30 – 10:00 pm

Handel’s great work Messiah captures the joy and wonder of the holiday season and has remained popular since its first performance in Dublin in April 1742. Experience the power of 100 voices and the majesty of the mighty Casavant organ in this time-honoured celebration.

http://www.peterboroughsingers.com/concerts/messiah-2018/

 

Thursday, December 20

Jingle Boots – The Big Yellow Boot Holiday Show at Showplace in Peterborough

6:00 pm

Join the entire Big Yellow Boot family – Splash, Boots, Charlie, Chef Brock Lee and our very own Jumping Jack Granny as they celebrate the HOLIDAYS!Jingle Boots is Splash’N Boots most interactive show yet, so dress in your best yellow and blue holiday gear and get ready to dance and sing along with holiday classics and Splash’N Boots originals!

http://www.showplace.org/

 


The Winter Harvest

by Executive Chef Alexander Barron

We’re well into November and the snows are falling hard.  It’s a visual (and thermal) sign of crossing into winter, though on the calendar it’s still autumn, and the kitchens are preparing to cook through the long snowy season.

In order to make it through, this year we are growing our own greens and sprouts in the main dining room with its floor-to-ceiling windows.  We are still learning the best method, but if you stay with us this winter you may see one of the cooks trimming greens for your salad or sprouts for a garnish on your plate.

Foraging is not completely finished either, as there are a few things we can harvest even through the snow cover.  Many of our perennial herbs can simply be uncovered and trimmed, and then covered up again with snow to protect them from the cold air.  We will also be harvesting sumac straight from the trees to play with.  Part of the fun is seeing what is still available.

This time of year much of the Ontario harvest is still good and fresh (kept in proper storage) so we can pickle a good variety of vegetables.  We’re also getting excited about squash, pumpkin, cabbages, roots, apples and pears which keep well.  They’ve gotten something of a bad name as part of a boring winter cuisine, (think boiled vegetables with no flavour! or don’t if you prefer), but we think this is just part of the cook’s ever-changing challenge to keep food interesting and appetizing.  It doesn’t hurt that Ontario now boasts excellent greenhouses as well.

As the earth quiets, and settles for a long winter’s sleep, it’s time for these beautiful ingredients to shine. The whole culinary team at Viamede is looking forward to serving up hearty, nourishing, and imaginative meals. We can’t wait to welcome you!


Mount Julian’s Fall Harvest

by Alyssa Joynt

As the leaves turn from green to gold, the numbers on the thermometer start to drop, and we watch summer roll into fall, it is the perfect time to look back at the summer gardens of Mount Julian.  When we say that the food we serve is local, we really aren’t kidding.  For the next installment of the Mount Julian blog series, Chef Alexander took me on a tour of the gardens around Viamede and explained how he uses each plant in various ways to create incredible meals.

One of the first gardens I saw was the one situated right next to Mount Julian. The building has gardens both on the side and facing the lake, and all are filled with delicious greenery!

 

 

This lavender has a very short growing season, but can be used in crème brûlées and infused into almost anything, especially in dishes involving cream and milk.

In the neighbouring garden, a variety of greens take centre stage.  Our goal is to grow all the lettuce used at Mount Julian, and the leaf lettuce seen here can be used in a classic salad or as a burger topper.

 

Right next door is Genovese Basil, which is used in classic pesto.  One of the dishes featured this summer included a homemade pesto that was made with these pretty homegrown leaves.

 

Leaving the Mount Julian side of the property, we explored the gardens by the main building.  These pear tomatoes, which are a kind of cherry tomato, grow right near one of the outbuildings by the main entrance to Viamede.  They aren’t quite ripe in this picture, but once they are, they are delicious!

 

Right beside the cherry tomatoes are string beans and peas, both of which are beautiful and fresh veggies for any dish!

 

While I recognized many of the plants on my tour, dinosaur kale was a new introduction.  Another neighbour of the incredible pear tomato, this is a very large and extremely tough variety of kale that would generally not be eaten raw.  When the leaves are big like this, they are better sautéed or in a stew.

At the front of the building, there is a vibrant flower garden, but those flowers aren’t just for show!  Some of them are nasturtium flowers, which have a bit of a peppery taste and add a fun bunch of flavour and a fun punch of colour to the summer salad they were added to.

 

In between the Mount Julian and main building gardens, there is a very special plant growing.  Viamede doesn’t use any pesticides and we try to preserve the natural landscape of the Kawarthas as much as possible. Because of that effort we are blessed with native plants like this wild grape.  This variety is completely edible, and not only can we munch on these grapes but we also use them in jelly.  Their leaves are especially exciting – Chef used them during the summer to make dolma as a starting course at Mount Julian.

 

Chef harvests the leaves before service and then boil them to make them nice and tender.

 

 

Once boiled, he fills them with wild rice and rolls them up into delcious dolma!

 

Another example of the wild Kawartha landscape incorporating itself into the Mount Julian menu is our sumac and honey butter.

 

Featured earlier on in the summer, this butter is hand-whipped and mixed with honey and sumac, which can be seen growing all over the property.

Our gardens supply our kitchen with as much natural produce as possible, and we are so grateful!  As our gardens transition into the end of the fall harvest, Viamede transitions along with them.  Into our fall season now, these Mount Julian blog posts are near their end.  Thank you for exploring the kitchen with me, and I look forward to sharing the exciting world of preserves with you later on in the winter.  We all need some way to preserve the summer season, right?


What’s On: Thanksgiving Weekend Edition

by Jill Persson

It seems like it’s been a long couple of weeks since the last three-day weekend, doesn’t it? Between back to school nuttiness, bosses coming back from vacation and the inevitable return to a faster pace, it doesn’t feel like we’ve had a minute to breathe!

So it’s perfect timing for a family- and food-filled long weekend with lots of down time. Personally, I love getting out in the community over Thanksgiving, because, frankly, there’s just so much to do! The Kawarthas are just beautiful in the fall, and with harvest season in full swing, there is no end to the festivals and activities one can get up to.

Whether you’re hosting at home and need an excuse to get out of the house, or you’re staying at Viamede and want to explore, here is my round-up of the BEST things to do in the Kawarthas this weekend:

MUSIC

Walk the Line – Johnny Cash Tribute, October 5, Cameco Capitol Arts Centre, Port Hope

Choir! Choir! Choir!, October 5, Market Hall Performing Arts Centre, Peterborough

Bowie Lives – David Bowie Tribute, October 6, Academy Theatre, Lindsay

Steve Hill, October 6, Market Hall Performing Arts Centre, Peterborough

FAMILY

Fenelon Falls Turkey Trot, October 6, Fenelon Falls

Runway Funday, October 6, Kawartha Lakes Municipal Airport, Lindsay

Pumpkin Festival at Buckhorn Berry Farm, October 6-7, Buckhorn Berry Farm, Buckhorn

Norwood Fall Fair, October 6-8, Norwood

ART

Victoria County Studio Tour, October 6-7, Kawartha Lakes

Haliburton County Studio Tour, October 6-7, Haliburton

Harvest Craft Show, October 6-8, Buckhorn Community Centre, Buckhorn


The Wines of Mount Julian

Dinner at Mount Julian is always about turning a meal into an incredible experience.  So far this summer, we have talked about the atmosphere, the history, and the food, and how those all play a role in writing the story of each individual meal.  What we haven’t explored is the wine and how it plays a role in the night.  Now it is time to take a trip downstairs to Mount Julian’s wine cellar with our GM Ben, who does all of the wine pairings himself.

 

As I’ve learned this summer, a good wine pairing makes all the difference.  As Ben says, “a great pairing starts with two separate items – a food and a wine – and turns them into one.  The wine mellows out, the food becomes richer, and things just… work”.  It’s amazing to watch as guests try the wine, try the food, and then try the wine again.  Their eyes widen and their faces are taken over with excitement as the wine and the food intermingle to create something even better than either the wine or the food could be on their own.  It’s the closest thing to magic that I’ve witnessed.  When Ben walks into the kitchen and asks for a sample of the food for the night, glass of wine in hand, I know that something exciting is about to happen. But like any good magician, Ben doesn’t share his secrets lightly.  After a little convincing, though, I got to the bottom of the wine story.

 

Ben’s background with wine really begins with an enjoyment of the stuff.  For Ben, it’s not about memorizing details such as what grape comes from what region and which year was better than others.  Just like Mount Julian, wine is all about the story.  Ben loves what he refers to as the chase, which involves tasting wines against each other, with food, without food, and soaking up each experience to compile a working knowledge of what kind of wine goes best with which food.  He “never gets sick of driving around, stopping in on winemakers, and tasting their newest creations”.  It’s an adventure that leads to lots of exciting wines on the menu at Mount Julian.

 

When deciding on which wines to order, Ben has some favoured staples from Prince Edward County mixed with some international choices.  Other than that, though, he bases his wine orders on the season.  As he explained to me, he is currently “working off the wines [he] picked in the spring for the summery flavours and heat. Lighter wines to go with fresh fruity dishes, cold soups, and similar”.  As summer begins to roll into fall, with some of the trees already starting to lose their leaves, he is looking ahead to fuller bodied wines to accompany stewed meats, root vegetables, and rich sauces.  A lot of these pairings will come from warmer climates like Australia and California.  I have been trying to understand what Ben looks for in a wine, and it really comes down to the wines with stories.  Ben explained that he looks for smaller wineries and passionate winemakers, as they produce wines that never fail to be interesting.  He often shares stories of how he “find[s] a great wine one year, [buys] enough to regret it shortly thereafter… and a year later, regret[s] that [he] didn’t buy more”.  These stories are always shared as the wine is being poured, and never fail to make the wine more interesting and more exciting.

 

One of the most interesting questions to ask wine enthusiasts is what their favourite wine is.  When asked, Ben simply stated that “it depends on the day, the food, who I’m with, the season, what else I’ve had, and my mood.  In the winter, with a braised beef with Viamede double smoked bacon, root vegetables, and a mushroom demi-glace, I’ll reach for that Californian Shiraz I’d normally shirk.  In the summer, feet dangling off a dock, I’ll take a Viognier spritzer.  There’s no shame in that!”

 

There are so many stories pouring out of the Mount Julian wine cellar.  Each wine adds a new patch to the patchwork of stories that blankets a night at Mount Julian, and there is no experience quite like it.  The only thing left to do is to see for yourself!


Packing For A Viamede Cottage Stay

by Alyssa Joynt

Going on vacation can be stressful.  The packing rush, the multiple turn-arounds for forgotten chargers, favourite stuffed animals, and bathing suits, and the constant chimes of “Are we there yet?” from the back seat make getting on the road difficult.  That’s why we want to make it easier for you with the perfect cottage packing list.  So grab a pen and paper and start taking notes for your need-to-bring list… wait, don’t do that.  We’ve done it for you!

Bedding and Towels

The last thing you want to worry about while on vacation is laundry, so it’s a good thing you don’t have to.  All of our cottages get full housekeeping service, so your beds will be freshly made (yes, we provide sheets and blankets) and your bathroom is fully equipped with full sets of fluffy towels.  It might not be a bad idea to bring your brightest beach towel to decorate your porch railing, though.

The Kitchen Sink

One of the things people like about our cottages is that it gives them the opportunity to cook their own food (and if that isn’t your shtick, you can get all of your food at The Boathouse or even enjoy the comfort of home-made food minus the prep, by ordering from our signature BBQ Menu).  We provide the pots and pans, all of the dishware, coffee and a coffee maker, a fridge, a microwave, a toaster, and even an oven and a stove, depending on the cottage you book.

If you are particularly partial to a specialized coffee, or you can’t live without your morning smoothie, bringing your coffee machine or blender might be a good idea.  We don’t have a lot of specialized cooking ware, but we do give you the counter space for it!

All cottages also have a barbecue, because what is cottage country without a night spent grilling, drinking a beer, and catching up with family and friends out on your front porch?  And don’t worry about packing the kitchen sink – our cottages all have sinks, dish rags, and dish soap to help with the clean up.

So all you need is any food you won’t be eating at our restaurants, and any specialty cookware you can’t live without.

Toiletries

You know what’s also annoying to pack? Hair products.  To this day we are still perplexed about how to conveniently travel with something that isn’t quite solid and isn’t quite liquid.  With our full housekeeping service comes regular refills of shampoo and conditioner, so unless you have a specialized kind we’ve got you covered! We also provide hair dryers, but I personally prefer the beach-hair-don’t-care look. We also provide soap, so the only supplies from your bathroom that you’ll need are sunscreen, toothbrushes and toothpaste (but if you forget those we have some at the Front Desk!). And maybe makeup and hairspray (but we encourage you to go cottage-chic and throw the hair in a pony, and freshen your complexion with nothing more than your fave sunblock).

 

We hope you’re looking forward to your vacation almost as much as we are looking forward to having you, and we hope this has helped answer some of your perplexing packing problems.  Just remember to pack underwear, bathing suits, sunscreen, and your sense of fun, and of course your camera so you can relive it all when you return to real life.


Mount Julian: Pasta in Photos

by Alyssa Joynt

One of the things Mount Julian prides itself on is the freshness of our food. Our philosophy is all about making food from scratch, foraging for freshness, and scouring farmer’s markets. As I learned one evening, this stretches from our wine to our pasta dough. Chef Alexander makes the smoked trout tortellini in our pasta dish from start to finish, and as part of our Mount Julian blog series, I got to help! It all starts with the smoker.

The smoker is a relatively non-descript black box that I had never noticed before, but it makes a world of difference.

To get a nice smoky flavour, you need a lot of smoke, so a bucket of woodchips was soaked in water before being placed into the smoker. Dry wood burns, but wet wood smokes. Above the woodchips, Chef placed a tray of water to help the fish keep some of its moisture during the smoking process. Then, in went the trout!

From this to pasta!

It didn’t take long for the smoker to get nice and smoky, and once it did the fish cooked fairly quickly.

While we waited, I asked Chef more about the process. I learned that you can smoke duck, chicken, and nearly anything else you can think of. Because trout doesn’t take too long to cook – it’s just a question of how much smokey flavour you want – more time spent in the smoker leads to a smokier and drier result. As far as the trout goes, Chef favours a hint of smoke instead of a really intense smokiness, which helps the fish maintain some moisture and also adds a gentle and subtle richness to the overall flavour.

The finished fish was slightly smoky and extremely delicious (the biggest perk of joining the cooking process is the taste-testing!). Chef removed the skins and then we left the fish for a minute to make the pasta dough. As we prepared to make the dough, we both learned that charcoal is a lot harder to remove from skin than one would expect….

As Chef explained, the dough we made was arguably the richest ever, containing 6 egg yolks. To make the dough, the eggs were placed in a well in the flour and Chef stirred them slowly. This allowed the flour to be pulled in slowly but steadily.

Once the dough was mixed, Chef kneaded it with more flour to make the dough “nice and elastic”.

Setting the dough aside, we returned to the trout to make the filling. Using his hands, Chef crumbled the trout until it was nice and fine. Big chunks of trout inside pasta is not nearly as tasty as it sounds.

The next step was to add some flavour. Chef finely chopped green scallions and added them to the trout, along with some salt and pepper.

Once the filling was all mixed together, it was time to roll out the dough and start putting it all together!

After stretching the dough, Chef thinned it out with the pasta maker. He also floured the surface behind the pasta maker so that we could lay the dough out on the counter afterwards.

Once it was suitably skinny, Chef spread some saran wrap on a plate and sprinkled the top with cornmeal. This made no sense to me until he brought out the pasta cutter, which looks a lot like a cookie cutter. He made individual circles out of the dough, and placed each circle on the cornmeal plate. I soon leaned that this contraption existed to make sure the pasta circles didn’t stick to the surface, and I quickly became very grateful for it. Once we had enough circles, the folding process began.

The folding was definitely the coolest part of the process. Chef picked a circle and placed some filling in the middle. He then dipped his fingers and rimmed the circle with water to help the edges stick together.

He began by folding the circle in half and squeezing the edges together to make a little pierogi.

Once the pierogi is shaped, he folded the two ends in front to shape the tortellini.

After demonstrating a few times, Chef surprised me by letting me make a few of my own.
It’s both tricky and easy at the same time, because I really didn’t want to screw up but it also felt like I was working with something remarkably similar to Play-Doh, as the dough was relatively easy to shape and move (just don’t tell Chef I likened his food to Play-Doh).

The whole process from start to finish took a few hours, and we only made enough for a couple of servings. To make enough for a whole meal takes much longer. You can almost taste the care and patience that goes into making the pasta, although don’t take my word for it – come try for yourself!


The Only Honest Fishing Story You’ll Ever Read… Sort Of

by Alyssa Joynt

One of the best parts of working at Viamede is that I am forced to spend my entire summer on the lake.  What a shame, right?  One of the worst parts of working at Viamede is that our GM Ben can turn to me and tell me to meet him on the dock at 6 o’clock in the morning because we are going fishing.  I am not an avid fisherwoman, but I dragged myself out of bed and made my way to “work” for my first real fishing expedition since I was a kid.

The last time I went fishing was when I was maybe ten years old, so it’s been a while.  Cutting through the morning mist hanging on the lake, Ben arrived in his boat to pick up myself and the mother and son joining us.  None of us were very experienced, so as soon as we were out on the lake Ben gave us all a quick version of Fishing 101.  He showed us how to hold the rod properly, familiarized us with some basic fishing terminology, and showed us how to cast.  He taught us that you always have to keep a firm grip on your rod with one hand, and showed us how to hold the line with one finger while opening the bail so that you can tip your rod back and cast.  I was probably the last person to get the hang of it – I just kept dropping an excessive amount of line right in front of the boat, which created quite the mess.  I ended up with clumps of tangled fishing line that Ben had to come and fix, but eventually I figured it out too.

 

I wasn’t the only one who needed help, though.  The little guy with us needed reminders on how to hold his rod properly with one hand, and we all needed to be told from time to time that we just needed to let our lures sink instead of drawing them in constantly.

It took all of us a while to catch any fish, although everyone caught a fair amount of salad, or vegetarian fish as I like to call it.  Finally, just as Ben was getting nervous that we were beginning to doubt the existence of fish, we started feeling some bites.  Ben, of course, caught the first fish, and despite it being rather small he was quite happy to show it off.

 

 

After that, the fish started to come out of hiding.  We caught largemouth bass and rock bass, and Ben taught us the difference between the two.  Rock bass have spiny fins and red eyes, so they’re easy to distinguish if you know what you are looking for.  As a fully trained fish identifier, I can now tell you with a very small percentage of certainty that this is a picture of a rock bass…

 

 

…and that this is a picture of a largemouth bass.

 

Check out the red eyes on this bad boy!

 

While Ben was having all the luck in the world (partially because he kept casting right where my rod was and stealing my fish), the boy with us still hadn’t caught anything.  We moved to a spot where there was a big rock that had a hole in the middle, and he caught the biggest fish of the outing.

 

 

All in all, it was a pretty cool experience.  While I’m still not convinced that Ben can go out and catch 15-16 inch bass on a regular basis, I will admit that fishing is pretty fun.  Between the mist on the lake, the music of the loons, and the excitement of actually catching a fish, it’s worth getting up early.  I’ll have to go out again so that Ben can prove the existence of big fish, and I’ll keep you posted.  Someone has to keep the fishing stories straight, right?

 


Mount Julian: From 1874 to 2018

by Alyssa Joynt

This is the first in a series of blog posts about Mount Julian restaurant at Viamede Resort. We’ll be talking about the food, the history, the ambiance, and more! Check back regularly for the latest!

In 1874, Mount Julian stood alone, serving as both an inn and restaurant.  It has always been a destination for great food and incredible experiences, with lakers boating over for meals and people riding from Lakefield, almost 30 km away, just for dinner and a one night stay.

Mount Julian used to be a stand-alone location, with the restaurant on the main floor and a handful of rooms on the upper floor.  When Viamede Resort opened in 1885, Mount Julian served as the leisure side of the property, while Viamede hosted the labour crowd with miners and loggers filling the rooms.  In 1999, Don Bennet took over the resort and joined the two businesses, making Viamede the resort and turning Mount Julian into an Italian style resto, called MJ Bistro.

When Ben Samann took over Viamede in 2011, he knew he wanted to turn MJ Bistro into something special.  A dinner at Bluehill at Stone Barn served as the inspiration for the locally-sourced menu, and when the groundskeeper at the time suggested that Viamede start it’s own farm, Ben was all over the idea.  Food that went straight from farm to table?  Food foraged from the forest?  It was a menu that wrote itself, and the stories behind the food match the storied history of the building itself.

In a recent interview with Ben, he explained that eating at Mount Julian should be a very natural, comfortable experience.  As he said, “we’re not serving asparagus soup in a shoe”.  The food is not overly surprising, deliberately weird, or alienating in any way.  This isn’t a fine dining experience governed by overly strict rules – it’s a place where you can sit down in shorts and a T-shirt and enjoy historic ambience and local food.  Ingredients sourced from as close as the land the building sits on and as far afield as the Lakefield farmer’s market, it’s a meal that feels like you’re coming home.

Welcome to Mount Julian.  This summer, we are opening our doors to a new, online experience on this blog.  From the way the food is foraged to the hand-selected wine pairings, we invite you to join us as we rediscover the stories behind Mount Julian.