Kelly-Anne Maddox relocated to Ottawa from BC in 2010 and is busy being a mom to her one-year old daughter.
Having recently rejoined the world of the gainfully employed, I’ve found myself faced with a bit of a conundrum this summer – the paradox of disposable income and no vacation days. Bye-bye, longed-for jaunt to Iceland, so long backpacking in the Rockies. With money burning a hole in my pocket I came up with a solution: weekend staycations.
And so it was fortuitous that a friend offered to lend us her cottage near Westport for a weekend in July.
While we were there, we took the opportunity to wander about and visit the town, and soon learned that Westport is a foodie’s paradise.
We first stopped in at Rosie Yumski’s Fine Foods store and noshed on their samples, my favourite being the blood orange and caramelized jelly on goat cheese. My husband gravitated to the condiment aisle, and picked up a Stonewall Kitchen British pub-style mustard. Across the street at Church Street Bakery we were delighted to find fluffy, golden, lemon meringue pies fresh out of the oven and couldn’t resist buying one to eat later (they were kind enough to offer to hold the pie for us while we visited the town), along with a still-warm lemon blueberry scone for our toddler who was getting hungry. We sat on the tree-shaded veranda and the three of us picked at the scone, which was so delicious – light, not too sweet, with a hint of lemon - that we went back for a second.
At the harbour we strolled along the lush green park flanking the docks, oohed and awed over the merrily bobbing pleasure boats ranging from dinghies to luxury cruisers. On the other side of the park stretched the calm silver-blue waters we paused on a bench to watch gulls soaring and diving for lunch. Which made us realize that we were perhaps ready to resume our noshing. We had noticed an artisan pizza joint, The Rustic Oven, adjacent to the docks and decided to share a slice. I was delighted to find a hole in the wall, bare bones takeout, tucked into a walk-in basement, and knew I was in for a treat when the chef said we would have to wait a few minutes since they were just putting the pizza back in the oven to crisp up the crust.
We ate our pizza under a gazebo on the waterfront, the crust some of the best I’ve had, crispy and chewy yet not tough, with a simple, flavourful tomato sauce topped with just the right amount of cheese to not be overwhelming and greasy.
Since all good lunches end in desert, we set off down Main Street to hunt down some locally made ice cream. Our quest was interrupted by a stop at the Westport Bakery, where I found, to my great surprise, a plethora of German baked goods – I left with a Berliner (a raspberry jelly-filled doughnut), a baguette for supper, and a sausage roll for my husband. The Berliner lasted about a milisecond, and is by far one of the best I’ve tasted, even counting the ones I’ve had in Berlin – filled with tangy raspberry jam, with a light coating of sugar on the outside.
In the same little strip mall we poked our heads in at The Salmon House and Seafood, a local fish monger and fish and chips shop owned by a couple who relocated from Toronto to take over the existing shop. Too full to eat anything else, we bought a couple of marinated salmon brochettes – wine and herb, and maple barbecue – for dinner, and ordered some candied salmon, which was still in the smoker and had another 20 minutes to go.
While I was paying I spotted bags of potatoes sitting on the kitchen floor in the back – I had to ask, and yes, they make their own fries, from real, fresh potatoes. I made a mental note to come back the next day for fish and chips.
While we waited for our salmon, we checked out the ice cream at Cottage Coffee (because there’s always room for ice cream) on Church Street. I was disappointed to learn that their ice cream isn’t homemade, but the owner reassured me that it was high quality and local, from Tracey’s Dairy in Renfrew.
I looked over the menu, which, for my taste, was a bit heavy on the chocolate, and settled on Strawberry and Cream, one of the only flavours without chocolate or fudge. The flavour was subtle, more on the cream side than strawberry, and tasted simple and authentic, not sickly and cloying, as strawberry ice cream is often wont to be.
We walked, or I should say waddled at this point, back to the fish store, and picked up our wares. Later that evening, our supper menu consisted of barbecued salmon skewers, candied salmon, accompanied by warm baguette, and a cucumber and basil salad, both picked fresh from the garden.
The wine and herb brochette was the hands down favourite, and the candied salmon a balanced combination of sweet and salty. As the sun set and the crickets began their nocturnal song, we sat on the patio and dug into the lemon pie. Although the meringue was airy, and the lemon filling a perfect custard, it wasn’t quite lemony or tart enough for my taste, and could perhaps have benefited from the addition of more lemon zest (nonetheless, it wasn’t long before we were all scooping up seconds).
On our trip back to Ottawa at the end of the weekend, we stopped at the Salmon House to try their fish and chips, only to find that we were too late and it was already closed, probably not a bad thing, since my pants were already fitting a little tighter after two days of indulgence.
We continued on our way, sated and content, having disposed of an appropriate amount of disposable income at our new favourite staycation destination just a short drive from town.
Wow! Thanks Kelly-Anne! Who else is hungry?!