When one heads to the country to escape the flurry of activity in the city, one risks being faced with a slew of small mom n’ pop operations or diners that serve hearty meals of little imagination. Guy Fieri and his cohort would have you believe that these types of operations are universally charming and delicious because your dinner just came on a mammoth sized platter covered in gravy. I’m not convinced. I love a good sandwich with a side of fries/ slaw as much as the next person but not all small town local restos are created equal.
When we drove down Main St. in Picton, we were not excited by the local cuisine and the tourism office only suggested Picton businesses. We seriously thought we’d be eating meatloaf/ turkey dinners for the remainder of our romantic trip. Determined and hungry – we went in search of deliciousness in neighbouring villages.
- Pomodoro: After a bike-ride through deserted farm-land and being eaten alive (me mostly) by black flies, we stumbled upon a tiny Italian trattoria in Wellington. We have a lot of Italian food in our daily lives but the focussed menu piqued our interest. The decor felt sophisticated: wood beams, granite/ marble bar (like in a classic French brasserie), and jars of preserves lined the walls. Our server was knowledgeable and exceptionally friendly. We ordered arancini to start – the tomato sauce was fresh and acidic! I ordered papardelle & meatballs ( with wild mushrooms, peppers, spinach, parmesan, white wine cream) and HoM ordered spaghetti meatballs (with their eponymous pomodoro sauce). The pasta was so fresh – made on-site – and each dish was an exercise in balancing savoury and earthy flavours. It’s like nonna’s meals but with more polish! We knew when our entrees arrived that we would NEED to order dessert. Our server recommended “sfingi” (Italian doughnuts), which were covered in cinnamon sugar and served with caramel and a fruit compote on the side. HoM and I didn’t talk throughout our meal. We merely gazed into one another’s eyes … as we stuffed our faces!
- Tall Poppy Cafe: cafes are a dime a dozen in the city but this was a charming little stop on our way out of town. The cafe is filled with original artwork (of locals who frequent the joint) and enormous wood dinner tables. According to their website, the store retains original features like pressed tinned ceilings and it’s supposed to feel like a 1940s farm kitchen. The coffees are expertly prepared and they served the most sumptuous piece of carrot cake I’ve had in a long time. This place was brimming with character.
- Lavender Ice Cream: HoM and I love lavender. He has his own plants in his garden and he made us provencale veggies once infused with lavender! We returned to the lavender farm on the way out of town because they sell lavender ice cream. Let me repeat: LAVENDER ICE CREAM. You’d think that it would taste like sweet old lady soap but the flavours are really surprising. You smell the lavender but it such a delicate flavour alongside the real vanilla. It’s summer in your mouth.
PEC has a ton of hidden gems. Aside from Blumen, we’d recommend you search beyond Picton for epicurean delights. Just follow your gut and you’ll be rewarded.