Prince Edward County: Eastern Promises
Prince Edward County is a relative tween in wine country years, but new imports like food trucks, pop-up dinners and urbane innkeepers give it a worldly edge
In P.E.C., where the winery tour culture is still relatively young, some stops can be underwhelming. But Karlo Estates is the antithesis: the 38-hectare grounds include woodland for hiking, and the chatty owners, vintner Richard Karlo and artist Sherry Martin, host tastings in a newly refurbished 1845 barn that’s set up like a wine bar. They’re into unpretentious education, and they pair each sample ($1) with a simple snack (nuts, cheese, chips) to show neophytes exactly how food and wine work together. Serious oenophiles stop in for rare finds, like Karlo’s unusual white port (ask P.E.C. food insiders for a local gem and they name it), and art lovers deke up to the barn’s loft, where Martin runs a small gallery. 561 Danforth Rd., Wellington, 613-399-3000.
Pomodoro Trattoria and Wine Bar
Wellington’s first bona fide rustic Italian trattoria, Pomodoro, opened in 2012 and quickly became the Friday night destination for locals. For visitors, it’s the kind of welcoming place you can wander into with a sunburn and winery-tour buzz, and order up another glass alongside hand-cranked spaghetti with house-ground meatballs. Chef Scott Kapitan took over the kitchen after his vaunted dining room at the Bloomfield Carriage House closed last winter. He brings serious skills to comforts like brown butter–drenched ricotta ravioli and smoked-tomato pappardelle. He bottles artisanal sauces and preserves, too. 280 Main St., Wellington, 613-399-5909.
Great Canadian Cheese Festival
Canada’s largest binge-fest of cheese draws 4,500 fromagophiles to an 1890 building in Picton inspired by London’s Crystal Palace. Jamie Kennedy hosts a ticketed dinner at his private P.E.C. farm on Saturday, while 36 of Canada’s top artisanal cheesemakers showcase more than 125 varieties for tasting with Canadian wines, beers and ciders. Cheese savant Debbie Levy of the Dairy Farmers of Canada teaches curd basics, and true cheese freaks can take a six-hour guided tour to Fifth Town, Black River and other local dairies. Wear forgiving pants; bring emergency Lactaid. June 7 and 8. Picton Fairgrounds, 375 Main St. E., cheesefestival.ca.
The Waring House Cooking School
Jordon McGinnis, the 30-year-old chef at the Waring House Cooking School embedded in Picton’s 20-year-old flower- and doily-clad inn, makes his students swoon with his suave kitchen skills and country-boy demeanour. He grew up on a nearby dairy farm and follows a 100-mile philosophy of cooking, stocking his shelves with the best stuff from P.E.C. growers. The three-hour classes follow themes like Field-to-Table Butchery, Foraging Favourites and Lake Fish Fry using current techniques (sous-vide) and trendy ingredients (duck and other wild game). At the end, the group—usually around 10 people—sit in the plush banquet hall and enjoy local wines with the DIY feast. $95. 395 Sandy Hook Rd., Picton, 613-476-7492.
Last spring, two innkeepers from France opened a boutique B&B on a maple-shaded, 1870s-era farm. The updated yet still nostalgically creaky interior combines vintage farmhouse furniture with hits of trendy Canadiana. Downstairs, the duo sell imported chocolates, mustards and oils, teach French cooking workshops, and bake traditional pastries like profiteroles au chocolat. 662 Hwy. 62, Bloomfield, 613-393-0127.