The day after the concert, began with breakfast at the Day’s Inn, which turned out to be rather better than these continental hotel breakfasts usually are, thanks to the available waffle batter and waffle iron. They did run out of coffee, but we were able to save that one by making a pot in our room afterward.
After checking out, and getting the word of mouth that general notices on the concert were good, we headed to the hottest spot in Ontario—the Flu Clinic! Seriously, we decided to go see if Orillia flu clinics were being run any better than Waterloo Region ones. And boy, were they ever. Very short lineup, everyone in it quickly assessed as to whether they qualified (Jean did, as a healthcare worker; I didn’t even try—I do have some morals), given a time to expect their shot. In our case it was so soon, and the weather was so fine, we just stayed in line until it was done. The whole thing, including the 15-minute after-shot wait, took half an hour, 40 minutes, maybe.
Oh, and Jean had no after-effects from the shot, other than the expected sore shoulder muscle.
After that triumph, we headed to downtown Orillia to see what might be interesting there. We spent some time in a kitchen store (weirdly, perhaps, Jean likes kitchen gadgets as much as I do—maybe even more), and got ourselves a few things, and some Christmas stuff. We also traded casino concert stories with the owner, who had apparently seen a very awesome Santana show there. (Actually, it did sound great.)
Next was a clothing store that had some used, some consignment, some remainder items. So really great prices, and stuff for both men and women. Jean tried on this leather jacket that fit him really well. And this almost never happens—he’s just not an “off the rack” size. So at $19.99, that was pretty hard to resist, so we didn’t. He also got a leather belt, while I picked up three tops. The grand total was under $60.
It was around lunchtime at this point, and we were hungry, so we decided to go to the “restaurant in a train” place that we’d been to on our last visit to Orillia (to buy the tickets). We had the same waitress! It was an enjoyable enough meal. In particular, my scallop appetizer, in chili and cocoa, was quite nice, and Jean enjoyed his main of lake trout (or some local-ish fish like that).
We now figured it was a reasonable enough time to head toward Singhampton, where we had bed and breakfast and dinner reservations. The drive was just fine, and we had spotted the B&B on the way up, so no trouble finding it. It’s called the Avalon, and while not the cheapest B&B ever, it’s really nice accommodations. You get a whole downstairs (not basement) area to yourself, with huge windows onto a beautiful view. The owner also toured us around most of the rest of the 5000 square foot house, all very open and festooned with stained glass. And interestingly, it uses geothermal heat (and cooling).
The grounds are also huge, and we took a little walk around those next, and got some photos (as above). Then it was nap time, as neither of us had slept that well the night before. Then up to get ready for dinner at Haisai.
This would be Michael Stadtlander’s new, cheaper (though certainly not cheap) restaurant. And the room is very characteristic of him and his wife Noboyu, with a crazy festooning of pottery and all natural wood furniture. Noboyu recognized us from our stop in August and generally made us feel comfortable. We were a bit surprised to see that the restaurant was not sold out on this Friday; it was maybe two-thirds full. And they were having fireplace issues, so it was a little cool in there.
But, everyone wants to know about the food right? It was a 10-course tasting menu. I made a point of writing down what we had that night.
- Single New Brunswick oyster—I forget how seasoned. But very nice.
- Smoked hock (from their farm, smoked for six months) on whole-wheat bread made there. The meat had really lovely taste and texture not quite like any other “ham” kind of thing I’ve had before. (And I do mean that in a good way.)
- Jerusalem artichoke soup with shallots and smoked pickerel. This man is really a soup genius; I couldn’t believe the creamy, wonderful taste and the contrast with the shallots. You almost didn’t need the fish.
- Georgian Bay lake trout (caught that day) in wasabi butter with blue potatoes. Definitely a highlight, the fish was meltingly good, and the sauce was so amazing, it was difficult not to lick the plate after. And the potatoes tasted pretty remarkable, too.
- White fish on a sauce of beet, chervil, and carrot, with spinach puree. Also a great combination of flavors.
- Salmonberry (or maybe some other kind of berry?) sorbet on wild apple. He’s also quite good with the sorbet.
- Roast piglet with wild mushrooms and cabbage. The meat was mouth-watering. Mmm, fat. Of course the mushrooms were good, but the cabbage also tasted just amazing. Because, I think, it was cooked in the mmm, fat.
- Duck breast with roasted carrot, squash, turnip, parsnip, and a squash ravioli. The most interesting thing here is that the duck,while good, was actually the least of this plate. These vegetables tasted amazing.
- Three kinds of Ontario cheese—goat, sheep, and gouda—served with pear and walnut cranberry bread. Ontario, it turns out, also makes good cheese.
- Tarte tatin with rum ice cream.
The new restaurant has a wine list, all Ontario. We enjoyed our first five courses with a lively Frog Pond Riesling, then switched to a glass each of Stratus Red. That’s an expensive wine, but it did taste fantastic. We have a bottle here, and now I’m dying to open it. With dessert, we had Earl Grey and mint tea, both well above average.
We came in quite hungry, and ended feeling satisfied but not stuffed, which is perfect. And we slept really well that night.
Onto Saturday now, which began with the breakfast part of the B&B. While we’d met the wife more the day before, today it was the husband who sat and talked with us while we ate our apple starter, delicious coffee, fresh baguette, and frittata. He was quite an interesting guy. He told us about how they’d ended up moving from Toronto to this location, the whole process of designing and building the house extension, the mechanics of geothermal.
They made Creemore sound like an interesting little town, so we decided to head there after checking out. And it is pretty cute. We spent some time in a bookstore, and I wanted many things, but decided I really needed to catch up on my reading first. At an antique store, we bought new stools for our breakfast bar—not antiques, those, they were new. They do look a bit snazzier. (Can’t say we’re not doing our bit for the Ontario economy.) And at the 100-mile shop, we bought a bunch of Ontario cheese, including some we’d had the night before. Fifth Town Cheese Company from Prince Edward County—try them out.
Then we headed home, so you might think this travel diary is done, but no… We decided to keep it going.
That night, we ate out at Art Bar. Once again, the food was quite good, holding up surprisingly well to our recent experience at Haisai. But once again, we seemed to be left fairly close to curtain time. I still don’t understand why they have such trouble getting us out in two hours. But anyway…
We had tickets to Cirque de la symphonie, which was the KW Symphony playing various pieces while, during most of them, circus performers did their thing. This was riveting! I couldn’t believe how fast the two hours (or so) went by. Particularly notable was this beautiful trapeze artist who did a really spectacular set on a rope in the second half. And then there was the gorgeous man who did this act with a big square (I find this stuff hard to explain) in the first half, then, shirtless, did this Icarus act in the second, jumping and flying around with a white sheet flapping behind him.
And the finale were these two guys, all in gold, one of whom can balance on the other and get into the most amazing poses. OK, my whole description of these performances sucks, but trust me, they were wonderful to see. (And thankfully, the Centre was very full for this show.)
Anyway. We both ended up very satisfied with this little November getaway. And Jean also had a great paddle (canoeing) on Sunday. It was a beautiful day, wasn’t it?