COVID-19 and all that

I’d like to start this whole post/rant/announcement with a simple quote I find myself saying over and over. “Our grandparents were sent to Juno Beach. We’re being sent to the couch.”

Coronavirus, COVID-19, “the ‘rona”, whatever you want to call it, sucks. People are losing their jobs, everyone is cancelling plans, and some businesses will go bankrupt. People will die. More will die if we pretend they won’t. I don’t want to make light of it. But it will pass, and it will pass faster if we all do our part and, pardon my French, #staythefuckhome.

There’s hope on the horizon. There are existing drugs that seem to be helping people and we know are safe, but it will take time to make sure they actually work. Testing is ramping up, people are getting the right habits, and in a few months, this too shall pass. In the meantime, what we can all do is, well, nothing. Stay home. Sleep in. Get day drunk. Play Monopoly (you should finish the first game sometime around July). Weed is legal, so get baked out of your gourd and finally figure out why they’re called fingers if they don’t fing.

Past generations were sent to war to die, or went through pandemics that had no end in sight, with no cure, no government support, and not even basic sanitation. We’re being asked to do nothing. Personally, I’ve been training my whole life for this.

What’s Viamede up to?

Right now, Viamede is closed. We’re kinda planning to reopen for Easter, maybe. We’ll follow guidelines, best practices, and what we think is best. Otherwise we’ll be open in May. Or whenever. But no matter what happens, we’ll be ready.

At this point, we’re hiring normally. Our key staff is still in and out of the building, answering phones and doing spring projects as usual, but with more handwashing. In April, we have our usual crew hired and ready to gear up for a busy summer. We’re committed to our team and our guests that when we get the green light to run for the summer, we’ll be ready.

Even with some restrictions in place, it’s possible to practice social distancing here. We’re a small resort on a lot of acres, so even during our busiest weeks, there’s rarely a crowd. If we’re allowed to be open, even with rules about maximum crowds and distancing, we’ll be open.

It seems that lots of people are looking forward to summer, and we’re encouraging people to “hope for the best, plan for the worst.” Book your stay, and if we can’t be open during that time, we obviously won’t charge you anything.

In the meantime, remember that we’re all in this together. The less we do, the faster we can do more. Help each other out, wash your hands, and keep it all in perspective.

We’ll see you all very soon.

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!

It really CAN be that simple!

By Ben Samann, General Manager

Over the past few years, we have been working on making the guests’ experience easier to access, simpler, and more intuitive, and recently, have committed to a few of these fully. Ideas like going tip-free to make our pricing more transparent, or building a corporate package that just includes… everything, or putting the tennis rackets by the tennis courts (mind-blowing, I know) for easy access have become our new standard.

On the surface, it seems like the easy choice – if we want everyone to go kayaking, why make them run around the property signing waivers and collecting equipment? If the standard is to tip staff 15%, why not build that into the pricing? If every meeting that books with us needs a projector, why charge for it separately?

None of these things cost us anything. It’s just a way to take a bit more thinking out of the process. But for now, it seems to be confusing to guests.

I have been working with several meeting planners recently who are having a hard time understanding that our package includes everything. We put the pricing on our website for people to see, and try to explain that just about everything is included. But I have now been asked about the following items, and whether it’s included:

  • Pop with meals (yes)
  • Our hiking trails (yes)
  • Parking (yes)
  • Wifi in the meeting room (yes)
  • Rental on a break out room (yes)
  • Printing an e-mail (yes)
  • Using a laptop in case theirs can’t connect to a printer (yes)

The issue here isn’t the meeting planner, the issue is the countless other places that sneak in 10% resort fees, $500 meeting room wifi, and labour costs to connect projectors. We’ve all gotten to expect all kinds of costs that are never discussed but impossible to avoid.

Similarly, I routinely have conversations with families in the summer as they plan their vacation that go like this:

Guest: “We’re coming next weekend, and I’d like to rent some kayaks on Saturday.”
Ben: “Rent? You mean borrow? They’re free, you just get them at the beach.”
Guest: “Cool! So how do we register?”
Ben: “You don’t. You just go to the beach, and they’re there, along with life jackets, paddles, and other toys.”
Guest: “Really? How do you know someone won’t steal a kayak?”
Ben: “………..”

Again, this comes about because of the countless stories of hotels having guests fill out waivers each time they want to have fun and sign out everything lest someone run off with a soccer ball. It seems strange in this age to not worry about guests being thieves, so much so that guests actually are surprised when they’re not treated that way.

Despite all the confusion that this simplicity causes, we are moving it forward. We continue to ask ourselves why certain rules exist, and make it easier for guests to get the full price and experience of their stay.


Wishing you a Merry Christmas

It’s been another fantastic year here and the memories just wouldn’t be the same without all of you in them! From hitting the trails, to walking the golden retrievers, and opening the doors to our brand new pool, this has been a year to remember. Cheers to you and yours!

Oh to be a Golden!

Sometimes Tobi’s ears turn off. Enjoy this snippet of our big day out after a huge storm. It reminds us to take joy in the simple pleasures. Bring on the snow!

Viamede Talks – Unoaked Chardonnay

In this video, Ben Samann introduces a Prince Edward County delight. The pairings at Mount Julian are always artfully selected – take a peek and see what you can learn.

Viamede Talks – Gouda Consommé

Riley Wanke, from one of Canada’s Top Restaurants, visits Viamede. In this video, he and Chef McKenna give us a behind-the-scenes look at the first course on the menu. So excited to have this creative collaboration at Mount Julian!


Garden Time!

Spring has sprung its wings, and summer is almost here. The wild leeks are gone for another year, unless you have pickled them and made pesto to go into your Boathouse coleslaw to be enjoyed all year. Spruce tips are preserved, cattail hearts jarred, garlic mustard frozen and now (better late than never) planting.

Earlier this week Jarrod Craig, our groundskeeper, and myself had a meeting with the Resort General Manager Ben Samann regarding putting in a new 70ft garden to expand our beautiful vegetables. Jarrod carefully sourced the best soil to host our vegetables such as globe carrots, rainbow Swiss chard, hakurei turnips, and a wide variety of radishes for my team and I to use later this summer. I am as excited as a little kid in a candy store. I will push the limits of what Jarrod can plant for me to share with our guests in any of our 3 restaurants on site.

The Leeks are coming!

By Chef Kevin

The unmistakable smell of Spring! A sign that Mother Nature is ready to wake up from her winter slumber. The first of the season’s Wild Leeks are here. This morning my Pastry Chef Dylan Smith and I went for a quick hike around beautiful Stony Lake near Viamede Resort in search of the illustrious wild green. It also happens to be my favourite ingredient by far of any item I may bring into our Kitchen and I put it on everything. It’s pure excitement when they finally arrive and I am like a little kid in a candy store. Mother Nature being the store and Wild leeks, morel mushrooms, cattail hearts, fiddleheads, wild ginger and any other Ontario wild edible being the candy.

I picked them about 10:30am this morning Friday, April 15, and I have immediately made changes to our Mount Julian Tasting Menu this week to include them on 7 of our 9 items . I’m sure Dylan will find a way to incorporate them in a such a way that it will be a delicious part of all 9 courses by the end of day. leeks

Fall Heritage: Pork Tacos with smoked corn pico de gallo & chili goat yogurt


pork-tacos-We’ve got a tasty recipe for you this week! Perfect for the last use of the BBQ while your local farmers still have Ontario corn left. We made this dish at the Purple Onion Festival in Peterborough on Sept 20th and it was a big success.

Pairs perfectly with Publican House Brewery Ale or SmithWorks Brewing Company


1 Pork Shoulder or Ham Roast from your local farmer / butcher – cooked and shredded

4-6 Corn on the Cob – from your favourite farmer’s stand / farmer’s market

4-6 Plum Tomatoes – chopped

1/2 Red Onion – chopped

1 bunch Cilantro or Basil – washed, dried, chopped

1-2 Cloves Ontario Garlic – minced

2-3 tbsp Favourite Oil (eg. grapeseed or sunflower)

250 ml Yogurt – preferably Cross Wind Farms Goat Yogurt

1 tsp Dried Crushed Chili – chop to make extra fine

1 pkg Favourite Flour Tortillas

1 bag Apple or Maple Wood Chips for smoking

2 tsp Ground Cumin

1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar


Warm up your BBQ to Med-High heat, while you soak a handful of wood chips in water for half an hour. Take the wood chips out of water and place on tin foil, fold up like a parcel and poke holes in parcel. Place wood chip parcel on one side of BBQ. When the package starts to smoke, turn BBQ to low.

Place cooked chopped pork in a covered BBQ safe vessel to warm and add corn on the cob. BBQ until cooked through and smoky.

Cut corn off the cob into a large bowl and mix in chopped tomatoes, herbs, onion, garlic, cider vinegar and oil. Season with salt, pepper and cumin to taste.

Mix chopped ground chilies into yogurt. Set aside until ready to serve.

With BBQ still on, warm up tortilla shells slightly. Place large scoop of smoked BBQ Pork in center of each taco, top with Smoked Corn Pico De Gallo and drizzle with Chili Yogurt to finish.

Bon Appetit!