The Adventures of Atticus

Be sure to earmark the dates for next year's Lavender Festival in Prince Edward County. There was a small petting zoo, live jazz music, lavender picking and local food. http://www.peclavender.com/

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A few more snapshots from our recent adventures in PEC.

The Prince Edward County Lavender Farm is a must - it happened to be the weekend of the Lavender Festival and we enjoyed picking fresh lavender from the fields, live jazz music, a little petting zoo and local food.

We also recommend Huff Estates winery - they have a beautiful contemporary art gallery and outdoor sculpture garden, offer tastings of their current and past vintages and have a cute patio for lunch or snacks overlooking the vines.

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A short ferry ride - but a world away - lie the Toronto Islands. I should be admonished for taking so long to discover Ward’s Island - the smallest residential island of the lot. It is a magical escape from the city…….at the foot of the city.

You can hop a ferry from the main terminal at Queens Quay ($7.50 per adult). For approximately the same price ($10 per adult) you can take a water taxi over at your leisure.

We spent a morning lounging on the patio of The Island Cafe over a late breakfast of delicious local fare (there were even some freshly picked peas on our plates from their personal garden). We ordered impressive coffees from their espresso bar (which we took to go while we explored the island in all it’s park - beach-life glory) and had every intention of returning for ice-cream had we not made a run-for-it to catch the ferry in order to make nap-time back on the mainland!

We can’t wait to return for round two on an up-coming summer weekend.

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Some lovely friends recently hosted a lovely affair in celebration of their son’s 4th birthday. The theme was King for a Day and we were enamored with all the perfect little details from the gorgeous cake topper (a crown of course) to the bouncy castle (what would a king be without his kingdom).

Atticus had a ball - as did all the other adorable munchkins. But the best part was, the adults were not an afterthought. There was tons of beautiful wine and adult beverages on offer and a food truck parked out front so everyone was well fed!

Beautiful photos shot by super talented Trish Mennell.

\\ W E E K E N D  A D V E N T U R E S // PRINCE EDWARD COUNTY

We’ve been shooting with the Canon EOS 70D lately and the results have been pretty epic. I’m a Canon girl and my old G10 has been my standby - but it can’t compete with the optic lens on this puppy! Unfortunately the G10 won’t be getting much love from now on….

Here are some snaps from our recent summer road trip to Prince Edward County. We spent a fun-filled few days biking the rural roads, tasting the local wines, picnicking and antiquing.

You can read more about it in my House Seven article here…and we’ve included a little cheat sheet below:

EAT:

Breakfast
At Tall Poppy Cafe Wellington you’ll find small-town hospitality with a hippy vibe, great coffee and homemade raisin cinnamon toast.

Sandbanks Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Lunch:
The Grange Vineyard offers tastings of its estate wines, and they’ll pack you a gourmet picnic in a wicker basket that you can take to one of the tables shaded by the property’s maple trees. Pair your seasonal sandwich and salad with The Grange Estate Gamay, an easy drinking wine with aromas of herbal juniper and spice that gives it refreshing acidity.

Another must-visit on the Prince Edward County Taste Trail, Norman Hardie Winery has an outdoor tasting room where you can sip their famous Pino Gris or Reisling. Then, spend a couple of hours in the sun at one of the wooden patio tables around the restaurant’s centre-piece, a stone pizza oven, which serves delicious wood-fired pizza.

Dinner:
Agrarian Bistro is a rustic, laid-back gourmet market and restaurant on Bloomfield’s main drag, with a comfortable patio. Chef Neil Dowson is a Chopped Canada star — be sure to try his charcuterie and cheese platters made with locally sourced meats, cheeses and pickles.

Sandbanks Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

Dessert:
Don’t be put-off by the line out the door at Slickers Ice Cream — its inventive flavors made from local ingredients are well worth the wait. The menu changes daily, but expect classic scoops Apple Pie (a la mode, naturally) made with actual chunks of pie pastry and apples seasoned with cinnamon, and Campfire, which tastes uncannily like burnt marshmallows.

Sandbanks Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

DRINK:

The Barley Room, a little gastropub located in The Waring House Inn, is as close to an English country pub as you’ll find this side of the pond. It serves classic pub fare and cold pints: make sure to try the Barley Days craft brew made proudly in PEC. There’s also live music most days of the week.

Sandbanks Bar and Grill on Urbanspoon

To get to Agrarian Speakeasy, descend the steep little staircase at the back of the Agrarian Bistro — you’ll be rewarded with cold craft brews, exceptional cocktails and local County wines in a prohibition-era environment.

Huff Estates Winery is run by a French expat who has made the winery, inn and art gallery feel like a stylish California bungalow. The vineyard produces a handful of lauded varietals from Pinots to Reislings. In July and August the winery’s Sunday Series features one-night-only performances of music and theatre (www.festivalplayers.ca).

SHOP:

Francophiles should head to French Country in Picton: the belle France sourced and inspired delights include soaps ceramics and fine linen.

Stock up on every conceivable lavender product at Prince Edward County Lavender in Hillier, from pure essential lavender oils to lavender shortbread.

In Bloomfield, Kokito is an inviting little shop featuring beautifully crafted everyday objects like canvas bags and pillows, etched wood maps, tea towels and pottery, all sourced with care. Expect lots of Canadian-made curiosities and items made for lakeside living.

SEE AND DO:

Hit the beach. The County is all about the shore in summer so clear a half- or full day, pack a picnic and head to Sandbanks Provincial Park. Dunes Beach is a local favorite for its sandy mounds.

Rent a bike. You can combine wine slurping with an invigorating country ride on one of The Bloomfield Bicycle Co.’s wine tours. Or, just hire some bikes and enjoy the views along the sloping country roads.

Catch a movie. For a truly retro experience, take in a flick at Mustang Drive-In an original drive-in theatre. Bring some cold (non-alcoholic) roadies, comfortable blankets and pillows and settle in for the evening. Retro treats are available at the snack bar.

STAY:

Request a room in the majestic 19th-century main farmhouse at the Waring House, a comfortable classic well situated between Bloomfield and Picton.

The Claramount Inn is an elegant colonial revival mansion with 13 comfortable antique filled rooms and two cottages. There’s also a five-star dining room and a full service spa. Request a room with a view of the Picton Bay.

Slated to open this summer, The Drake Devonshire is a conversion of a large lakeside Victorian house into a 14-room Inn, with classic Canadiana-meets-rustic-luxe looks and expansive views of Lake Ontario. The restaurant’s menu will focus on farm and lake-to-table produce.

\\ A D V E N T U R E S  W I T H  A T T I C U S // Bradford, Pennsylvania

Arriving at a final destination while road-tripping always makes me giddy. It’s a combination of the destination anticipation combined with the euphoria of finally emerging from such a confined space. To say that Atticus was impressed with our home for the weekend is putting it lightly — from the old-fashioned gates that magically creaked open, to the welcome party of staff who greeted us personally when we pulled up to the main house. It all felt like we had stepped back in time to a very civilized (and wealthy) period in American history. We wandered the grounds accompanied by the welcome committee who proffered crystal goblets of freshly squeezed lemonade. Atticus loved the billiards room and ice cream parlor (complete with actual retro freezers and ice cream sundae accoutrements in perfect condition from the 1950s property upgrade). We all ohhhh'd on cue when escorted through the impressive great room, admiring the two-story beamed ceilings and gigantic sandstone fireplace.

A highlight for all three of us was the Saturday night bonfire set up overlooking Skipper Lake. The walk was illuminated with discreet tiki torches that reflected off the water, but Atticus still insisted on bringing the small flashlight that had been part of his bug trapping welcome kit. The fire pit was set up on a stone terrace overlooking the water, and surrounding us was Pennsylvania’s Allegheny National Forest. We taught Atticus how to roast a marshmallow and build a s’more (with Pennsylvania’s own Hershey chocolate — no less) while we sipped on bottles of cold craft beer.

\\ CHECKING-IN TO THE LODGE AT GLENDORN // PENNSYLVANIA ROAD TRIP

We recently had the pleasure of enjoying a weekend in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Only a 3.5 hours drive from Toronto, The Lodge at Glendorn is a former family “camp” built in the 1930’s, in the grand tradition of mulch-generational family country escapes. Now a Relais & Chateaux property, the amenities sounded right up our alley, a little something for everyone.

Glendorn is a rustic but ever-so-luxurious sleep away camp for adults (and their offspring). There truly is something for the whole family. Had there been more time, Adam would have gladly accepted the offer to go fly fishing or skeet shooting with the activity director (I’m not making this up… he introduced himself over our country breakfast on day two). Instead, at his cajoling, we opted for salamander catching, feeding the trout in the babbling brook that ran alongside our cabin, followed by a bike ride (with toddler sidecar) on kitted-out mountain bikes down a series of trails to Bondieu Lake, offering a selection of un-motorized floatation/paddle craft. There was not a single soul on this private lake, and many hours were wiled away on and in the water.

We also enjoyed a family cooking class one afternoon. Atticus was impressed by the pasta making (prepared from scratch) and daddy enjoyed the fine bottle of Italian wine that was opened to accompany the finished product.

There were other amazing details too, like the wood-burning fireplace and the original ice chest (always filled) for making cold drinks in our cabin, the canapés and proper cocktail service offered to all guests prior to dinner at the main lodge and, of course, the gourmet picnic lunches served (and delivered) on china with crystal barware, linens and Tiffany & Co. silver.

Needless to say, once the weekend ended, it was hard to check-out and say goodbye to this magical place!

\\ CHECKING-IN TO THE SOHO BEACH HOUSE, MIAMI //

First things first, the Soho Beach House, is exactly the kind of place you want to stay if you’re after a chic, understated, but elegant escape from reality. It is the furthest thing from the “other” Miami. The one bachelor party dreams are made of.

Like all the properties in the Soho House family, it’s the little details that make the difference. Take the matter of cocktail hour — a topic of great importance and debate around the house. A beautiful stocked bar in each room comes complete with fresh citrus, barware, crystal tumblers and all the spirits and accoutrements one might need to produce the perfect martini, Old Fashioned or Manhattan. Unfortunately I couldn’t partake in the ritual, but that didn’t stop Adam from indulging for the both of us.

There is really no need to leave the confines of the property. Between the glorious beach, super comfy lounges (beach and pool), chaise-side service, Cecconis, the Tiki Bar, the screening room for movie night, the yoga studio, gym, Cowshed spa and Boules court, you’ll be well fed, pampered and entertained for days!

\\ CHECKING-IN TO THE SETAI, MIAMI //

True five star luxury is a thing of great beauty. It’s a subtlety that might not be seen but can always be felt. We recently checked-in to The Setai, part of The Leading Hotels of the World collection. It is an independently owned and operated property in the heart of Miami’s South Beach. A departure from it’s neighboring Art Deco properties to the north and south (all white minimalist temples to the Stark design philosophy), the vibe here is decidedly Balinese with other Asian and south east Asian touches throughout. In fact the beautiful charcoal grey bricks that lay in the lobby were transported from Shanghai which at one time had the largest array of Art Deco buildings in the world. 

Upon arrival we were welcomed by multiple greeters, bellmen and hotel staff who simultaneously whisked away our bags, offered us cool, refreshing towelettes and serve us chilled lemongrass tea. After a quick and intimate check-in (we never had to hover over a desk) we were immediately escorted to our chambers. A teak and onyx suite with an ocean view, a heavenly king bed and delightful details that any tech-obsessed guest would appreciate (remote controlled blackout blinds and my favorite: a Setai app for your phone that allows users to order room service, reserve lounge chairs, make meal reservations and even have espresso’s delivered beachside.)

There were other amazing details too - like our very own pool concierge who brought us cold water, fresh towels and refreshing water mist. We dined at The Restaurant, the spectacular on-site hotel restaurant that featured inspired Mediterranean cuisine and top-notch service. The bathroom products were designed exclusively for The Setai by Roja Parfumsa, the sheets were Frette and we had a luxurious black granite tub in the middle of our suite!! We missed out on the beach yoga and the spa treatments, but there is always next time!