Friday, September 14, 2012

Sail right to the door of County Cheese

Our most excellent lunch after docking at the County Cheese Company in Waupoos: Marvelous Magie de Ganaraska (right) and Voyageur, a strong blue with a unique hint of sweetness. Click on any image in TomCat Tales for an enlarged view.

If you sailed to Iles de la Madeleine in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, you could visit Fromagerie du Pied-de-Vent. On the west coast, you could call at Salt Spring Island in the Strait of Georgia and visit Salt Spring Island Cheese. But you’d have to hike or cab to get to the cheese in either case.

In Ontario, you can step off the boat and in less than one minute be inside the County Cheese Company to taste and purchase artisan cheese. Which is what we did while cruising around Prince Edward County.

One-month-old County Cheese Company is based in Waupoos Marina just down the road from County Cider Company and Waupoos Estate Winery.

John Thomson of KendalVale Cheese and now also the County Cheese Company at Waupoos Marina in Prince Edward County.

A Canadian filmmaker turned cheese entrepreneur, John Thomson, opened a retail store adjacent to the Blue Moose Café in the marina on the Civic Holiday weekend. By the spring of 2013, Thomson plans to be producing sheep’s milk cheese in the Old Waupoos Canning Factory building on the marina property.

Thomson isn’t exactly a newcomer to cheese. He started KendalVale Cheese about a year ago. He transports Ontario sheep’s milk to Quebec where it’s turned into fine cheese at La Moutonnière, an established award-winning fromagerie operated by Lucille Giroux and Alastair Mackenzie in the village of Sainte-Hélène-de-Chester.

The KendalVale cheeses—Magie de Ganaraska, Commanda, Voyageur and Champlain—have quickly become favorites with cheese lovers in Ontario and chefs such as Jamie Kennedy. Thomson has set up his own distribution system and also represents the award-winning cheeses of La Moutonnière such as Bleu de La Moutonnière, Fleurs des Monts and Sein d’Hélène.

The County Cheese Company shares a building with Blue Moose Café steps from the docks at Waupoos Marina. County Cheese will operate the café during the fall, winter and spring.

By boat or other means, Waupoos is about to become a must-stop on any visit to Prince Edward County.

Black River Cheese Company, which has been producing cheddar in the County since 1901, is a short distance from Waupoos. There is a small dock at the rear of the plant on Black River but approaching weather forced us to abandon plans to try reaching the dock with At Last! It's certainly on the itinerary for the next cruise to Prince Edward County.

Footnote: Alas, John Thomson's dream came to nought as he failed to organize sufficient investors to being cheese production; thus, Black River Cheese remains the only operating cheesemaker in the County.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Double take at Meyer’s Pier

Twins Janeen and Jen—or is it Jen and Janeen—help make Meyer's Pier Marina a swell place to stay on a cruise of Bay of Quinte. Click on any image in TomCat Tales for an enlarged view and slide show.

As we pulled into Meyer’s Pier Marina in Belleville last week for a pump-out and ice, we could see that the dock attendants were easy to spot: They all wore bright yellow shirts. Very helpful.

The Captain asked the young woman who took our lines with a cheery smile for her name. “Janeen” came the reply. Another young woman came up to help with the pump-out. When the Captain asked for her name, she replied “Jen.” The Captain looked up, recognized her and said, “Didn’t you just say your name was Janeen?” He looked back and forth from one to the other. “Wait a sec, are you twins?” Yes, they were. And very helpful.

When we came back a week later for fuel and to hunker down for the approaching storm front, we did another double-take. Down the dock from us was another catamaran with the brand name TomCat, albeit a sailing cat. She looked like a fast, comfortable cruising boat, a bit beamier and longer than our TomCat 24. With the help of Google, we learned it was a TomCat 9.7 built in Canada:

Once we docked, we realized there was still another TomCat in the marina, this one a tiny perfect houseboat called Tom-Kat.

We have to rank Meyer’s Pier right up there with Fraser Park Marina in Trenton in terms of friendly, helpful service. Meyer’s Pier also sells ice at the fuel dock/pump out station, has clean washrooms and showers, and is a short walk from Boathouse Restaurant and The Beer Store, and only about 15 minutes to the nearest store for re-provisioning, a price-friendly Giant Tiger. A short cab ride will bring you to Kalay’s Seafood Restaurant and l’Auberge de France.

But—and here comes the BUT—the overnight dockage fee is $1.60, the most expensive we encountered on this cruise, yet the WiFi is totally useless. Slower than even an old dial-up connection, and we’re just across the fairway from the marina office. We quickly gave up on the WiFi and tethered to the Internet with our iPhone when needed.

In the 21st century, if you’re going to charge a top rate for dockage, you must provide at least adequate WiFi.

After Labour Day, the marina is open 9:00 to 5:00 but it's closed Tuesday and Wednesday until Thanksgiving weekend. The adjacent Pier BBQ & Patio is already closed for the season. Meyer’s Pier is the most expensive marina we have encountered on this cruise, so good thing the service was exemplary.

Ice $3.10 (cubes or blocks) Pump-out $18.60 Gasoline fuel $1.50 Slips $1.60 per foot WiFi free but terminally slow!!! Laundry $1.25 wash/dry

The least expensive is Tip of the Bay Marina in Picton Harbour:

Ice $2.50 (cubes or blocks) Pump-out $14.60 Picton Harbour Marina (adjacent to Tip of the Bay) Gasoline fuel $1.45 Picton Harbour Marina Slip $1.25 per foot WiFi not available No laundry but there is a Laundromat about a 10-minute walk.
Courteous marina staff like Sarah on the fuel dock, and Matt, missing from photos, make Meyer's Pier one the friendliest marinas on the Bay of Quinte. But the WiFi service sucks.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Red sky in morning . . .

. . . sailors take warning.

Yesterday morning in the anchorage at Witlow Point, there was an ominous red look to the sky. Sure enough, today it was honking 30 knots, gusting 50, with record-setting rain.
Fortunately, we decided to hunker down in a harbour, tied to a dock; thus, we were safe and sound in Meyer's Pier Marina in Belleville when the storm front came through. As we post this in the evening, it's a flat calm, but with the cool of autumn in the night air.

Click on any image in TomCat Tales for an enlarged view.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Blessed be mud bottoms

After being challenged by weeds at all our previous anchorages in the Bay of Quinte, it was a delight to have the anchor set on the first attempt at Witlow Point in Hay Bay—thanks to a nice muddy bottom.

In a few anchorages, we had to make two or three tries before the anchor stuck. That’s because, firstly, Bay of Quinte is known to be weedy—and this is a bad year for weeds everywhere on Lake Ontario. Secondly, our main anchor is a Fortress, a Danforth-style fluke anchor, which doesn’t have much of a reputation for setting in weeds.

The good news is that the Admiral, who’s at the helm when the Captain is on the foredeck looking after anchoring, says she’s tired of making repeated attempts to get the Fortress to stick. Thus, she’s okayed a budget for the purchase of a plow anchor before the next boating season. Plows, such as the classic CQR or the newer Bruce or Delta, are known to set well in weeds.

Here’s what a Fortress looks like:

Here’s a CQR:
Here’s a Bruce (a claw anchor that we used with much success when the Captain lived in California and owned a Flicka sailboat):

The clincher for upgrading anchors came when we entered the anchorage at Witlow Point and had the hook down—easy peasy—on the first try. "That's how it should be every time," proclaimed the Admirable.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

At Last! reprovisions in Picton

We enter Picton Harbour by boat for the very first time, after seeing it from land countless times since the early 1990s.

Click on any image in TomCat Tales for an enlarged view.

Unexpectedly, we encounter At Last again, as the owners depart as we arrive. The weather must have forced a change of plans as they told us Cobourg was their destination when we met in Trenton a week earlier.
Picton Harbour Inn, our home away from home during The Great Canadian Cheese Festival on the first weekend in June.
The Captain’s heart always skips a beat at the sight of a trimaran, this one called Sulis docked in front of the town houses at the head of Picton Bay.
Home-made Amberjack catches our eye: Maximum of space in minimum of length.
The self-important captain of a visiting tall ship figured he did not have to pay overnight docking fees at Picton Harbour Marina as he was doing interviews with local media.
At Last! all alone in Tip of the Bay Marina on the eve of Labour Day weekend.

A visit with Jamie Kennedy and his mom

It was wonderful meeting the artist mother of Chef Jamie Kennedy at a 50-year retrospective of her painting at Jamie's farm in Prince Edward County. We were especially taken by Patricia Kennedy's Chinese paintings.

She has been painting most of her life but until this weekend had never formally shown her work. For the occasion, Jamie created a gallery in one of the barn buildings on his 42-acre farm in Hillier.

As we're holidaying in the County on our boat, without a vehicle, we were fortunate to meet John Thomson of the new County Cheese Company at Waupoos Marina and hitch a ride to Hillier.

Photo: Jamie Kennedy with his mother, Patricia Kennedy, at a retrospective of her painting. Click on any image in TomCat Tales for an enlarged view.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Yes, we find local fresh fish!

As we cruised east on the Bay of Quinte, every time we consulted our Ports Cruising Guide we were reminded how excellent fishing is in these waters. By the time we turned south on Long Reach and into Hay Bay to anchor behind Ram Island, we were salivating for local fresh fish.

Emails to several friends in Prince Edward County came back negative. No one seemed to know where local fish could be had, no one except Peta Shelton in Picton. She suggested we try Kendall Dewey.

Eureka! Kendall tells us on the telephone he has pickerel and yellow perch available. A $30-cab ride later we have in hand a pound of pickerel for one night, a pound of yellow perch for the next.
Here’s Kendall with our fillet of pickerel, which we grilled for about 15 minutes on medium heat along with red peppers and zucchini. Just salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil on the fish. The Admiral had hers without butter, the Captain tried his with butter. Either way, it was divine. Chilled estate-bottled pinot gris from The Grange of Prince Edward was the perfect beverage for the feast.

When we leave Picton Harbour this morning for Waupoos and head east on Adolphus Reach, we’ll watch for black flags marking Kendall’s nets where the pickerel was harvested.

We tried the yellow perch, first with butter on a pan on the grill (rather than the stove which would have heated and smelled up the interior of At Last!).
Then we tried the perch on a seafood tray on the grill. Both ways with salt, pepper and a splash of olive oil. The Admiral preferred the light grilled flavour while the Captain liked his pan-fried in butter. It was hot day with the temp still at 29C at seven o’clock in the evening so the Captain poured delightful Sullyzwicker Red from Rosehall Run Vineyards on ice.

So, if you’re boating near Picton, or live in the County, Kendall Dewey is your source of local fresh and frozen fish. Call him at 613.476.7546. He’ll give you directions to his camp on Elmbrook Road near Picton. Kendall supplies fish to local restaurants such as Blumen, East & Main and the Picton Golf & Country Club.

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