Wednesday, October 24, 2012
WHINE # 36 – October, 2012
Welcome Gary Doucette of Antigonish, Carolyn McFarlane of Halifax, and Al Pressey of Winnipeg to the Whine. I am also very pleased to have Al as a guest blogger. I hope this is not they only time that he agrees to contribute to the Whine.
I first met Dr. Pressey in 1968 when he was a young Professor and I was just starting my Ph.D. I have very fond memories of that time when, as a Maritimer, I was introduced by Al to the vibrancy and culture of the Canadian Prairies. However, before we get to Al’s article, let me first describe what I now call the 100-mile restaurant.
Dining in the “back of the beyond”: In late August Betty was surfing the net, looking for a place to stay near the Aroostock Valley Golf and Country Club (which straddles the New Brunswick/Maine border.) She happened upon the Canterbury Royale Gourmet Dining Room, which is in Fort Fairfield, Maine. For those of you who have never been to Fort Fairfield I can honestly say that it is so far into the back woods that it makes Antigonish seem like the centre of the universe.
The website indicated that meals were a fixed price and always included 6 courses. E-mailing for a reservation she was told that we had to select our entrées a minimum of 7 days in advance and that the other six courses were selected by the Chefs. This was because most meats had to be flown in from New York City, although we learned later that the duck breast came directly from France.
Hoping for the best we ate little (a wise decision) on the appointed day and simply chased golf balls around the Presque Isle Country Club. After a leisurely cocktail we drove though Fort Fairfield and entered the deep forest, relying entirely on our trusty GPS. Eventually we turned into a parking space next to a modest building. The sign on the door read “Welcome Johnsons”.
We were ushered into one of the two rooms, each having only one table. Ours was beautifully set with very fine china and enough silverware to arm a small band of revolutionaries. I ordered an excellent Cabernet from Napa and our dining experience was about to begin.
We were first presented with loaves of Challah bread and onion bread. It was next to impossible not to satiate ourselves but we did manage to leave a few crusts. Next came something called Consomme Olga, which had a huge and delightfully fresh Bay of Fundy scallop in the centre. This was followed by a green salad (see picture) served with a brandy and brown sugar dressing.
Our next course was French duck breast braised in morel mushrooms and paired with a bread pudding. This was followed by a tiny filet mignon that had been perfectly cooked in a reduction of Chateauneuf-du-Pape and Cognac. This was served with Potatoes Dauphine and Artichokes.
For the main course Betty had Seafood Crepes and I had lobster sauted in Cognac. Although I wouldn’t have traded my lobster her crepes were rolled in a rose shape and were clearly a work of art. Her lobster, shrimp and scallops were in a side sauce and the rose-shaped shells contained grapes, poached peaches and watermelon.
The decadent desserts were not a disappointment and we enjoyed a coffee before driving back through the forest to our hotel.
Canterbury Royale is owned and operated by two women who were New York chefs before making the dramatic move to northern Maine.
Why do I call this the 100-mile restaurant? That’s because if you are ever in Maine it’s worth a 100-mile side trip. And, for the curious the meal cost us $ 168, including the wine. (that’s 164 Loonies at the current rate of exchange).