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My weekend in NOTL

hungryabbey | | Jun 22, 2009 07:20 PM

Had a little vacation with my parents in NOTL to celebrate fathers day this weekend..We started by stopping by the Strawberry Festival.. it was raining a bit so we didn’t stay long.. just long enough to grab a gorgeous strawberry crepe and sausage (you can see this on the flicker pics)..

On Saturday night we had purchased tickets for the New Vintage Grille, an event where all of the small wineries in the region were sampling their new vintages. The event was a bit of a mess.. it had been raining all day and they had set up outside under a big tarp.. the problem was (which I dont think any of the guests anticipated) that they grass was muddy and wet (and actually was mixed with stray/hay) so all of us ladies had ruined shoes by the time we left. It was also a bit crowded, and their were weren't nearly enough people to pick up the dishes. The wine was great.. it was nice to get to taste from alot of the smaller wineries in Niagara that you don't get a chance to see at the LCBO.. I'm not going to give any notes on the wine, however, since I probably tasted more then 50 wines and they all kind of blended together by the end of the night. The food, catered by Food network hosts Anna Olson, Roger Mooking and Anthony Sedlack was great.. These chefs couldn't have been more friendly and they were happy to pose for pictures with me (I'm a bit of a food network junkie).. Roger Mooking's band actually played later on in the night, which I thought was a nice little touch..Here are some of the things we tasted that night (you can match my description with the pictures..)
Moroccan 5-spice chicken (one of the favourites of the night.. very flavourful and wonderfully juicy)
Flank steak with some type of spicy chimichuri sauce.. a bit tough, really hard to eat without cutting it..
Anna Olson’s BBQ rib with slaw and a cucumber ricotta torte (the rib was my favourite thing all night, not overly saucy, not fatty at all, just tonnes of tender meat)
Anna’s Rhubarb crisp with vanilla gelato (handed out by the adorable Micheal Olson)
Polenta with caramelized onions and lamb sausage
Anthony Sedlack’s Lamb with couscous (lamb a touch tough but really nice couscous, packed with nuts, herbs and dried fruit)
Italian ice (good palate cleanser before round two)
Roger Mooking beef carpaccio on a plantain chip (excellent crunch)

The next day we popped into Olson Foods at Ravine vineyards, an adorable country-house café near St. Catherines. The service was phenomenal! Micheal Olson was wandering about with fresh iced tea and chatting with all of the diners as we sat on the patio/porch and admired the view of the vineyard. What a little gem..I could hang out here all day and chat with the locals… I cannot wait to return to this spot, as the menu was so tempting, I wanted to try everything.. but we settled on the following:
Tomato, olive and mozzarella salad.. could have used a touch more salt, but the tomatoes were incredibly flavourful and the cheese was delicate enough not to overpower the salad..
Fried chicken with slaw and biscuits…These biscuits were adorable! The chicken was also incredibly moist inside with a perfectly crispy crust on the outside..
Roast beef sandwich with “lighthall tome” (somewhere between a goats cheese and a cheddar.. very delicious) and eggplant tapenade served with a fingerling potato salad with feta cheese.. I would definitely recommend this sandwich to anyone who loves roast beef.. it was perfectly cooked to medium rare, and pressed on a panini press to yield a crispy ciabata exterior.. mmm I would return for this sandwich alone.
Lemon square.. I know Anna is famous for these so I had to have it, and woah, what a burst of flavour!

Sunday night we went to the Stone Road Grille for dinner.. all I can say is thiank goodness for this site.. there is NO way I would have ever walked into this plaza restaurant without you. Inside, the décor is surprisingly sexy, the walls are done in red and black and the lighting is very intimate. Food was equally exciting… among the three of us, we tried:
Housemade bread (complementary).. a lovely rye, country sourdough and a cabernet bread (though, I never tasted the wine myself).. butter should have been less cold.
Sweet pea soup w/ crème fraise.. my mother described it as the best soup she has ever had. I had a spoonful, and it definitely was comforting. Apparently the chef used all fresh peas as well.
Charcuterie plate.. complete with various salamis, pickles, chutneys, and olives.
Foie gras poutine.. the foie gras was certainly not the best I have ever had but the accompanying gravy was deliciously sweet and played up the saltiness of the frites perfectly.
Steak frites with green beans and a béarnaise sauce.. my mothers came a tiny bit undercooked for her liking, but the meat was a very tender and they both enjoyed it regardless.
Duck confit with braised greens and a potato rosti served in a wine reduction sauce.. delicious! Just the way I like my duck, fall off the bone tender and juicy inside, no grisly fat exposed and a wonderful crispy crust on the outside. The potato rosti was really nice, it was wonderfully crispy, without feeling greasy or heavy.
Cloudberry crème brulee with walnut shortbread.. now I wasn’t sure what cloudberry looked like or tasted like when I ordered this dessert, and after eating it, I still don’t know.. This just tasted like a crème brulee to me.. but it was a pretty flawless plate, regardless of the title. Smooth texture in the middle, with a perfect caramelized crust.. the cookies were put to good use with my cappuccino.
Rhubarb clafouti with vanilla ice cream.. this was a huge portion, so definitely can be shared.. I honestly don’t normally like rhubarb, but this was lovely.. very lemony and light as air.

Service was top notch, our adorable server was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the wines, while plates were cleared and cutlery replaced promptly. As professional and helpful the staff was, the atmosphere was kept very informal, which I really appreciated. The bill with tax and tip for 3 apps, 3 glasses of wine, a bottle of sparkling water, 3 mains, 2 desserts and 3 cappuccinos was approximately $250- cannot be beat, if you ask me. Thank you so much to all who recommended Stone Road Grille.. its certainly not a place I would ever have thought to try on my own based on the location and signage but I will certainly return!

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