By: Sandra Murphy (with an intro from Jules Torti, Editor-in-Chief)
The editor’s inbox is an ever-flowing stream of requests for long lost ginger and raisin scones recipes or a DIY design for a runner bean trellis. There are reports from Ducks Unlimited, new book promos from publishers and sometimes, unexpected trip reviews from Harrowsmith readers. Before my editorial role at this magazine, I was a Registered Massage Therapist at Langdon Hall Country Hotel & Spa in Blair, Ontario. If you keyed in on our ongoing web exclusives from Langdon’s celebrated Pastry Chef Rachel Nicholson and Catalina Margulis’ interview with Chef Jason Bangerter in our digital summer issue, that’s why!
Usually employment in a hotel or spa can taint your experience or opinion—instead, my years at Langdon Hall proved that the landmark destination is an Instagram darling for a reason. From the much touted five-diamond dining to the deer meandering through the Carolinian woods, it’s a genuine postcard.
I was first introduced to Sandra Murphy at Langdon while she was pursuing her Certified Reflexology Practitioner credentials. Since, she has sent me a few slices of her holidays upon discovering that it really was me, ‘Jules the massage therapist from the spa’, who was now editor-in-chief of Harrowsmith. I immediately thought our readers would enjoy this account of her travels out east with her husband, Ray, also a Langdon employee. When you work at Langdon, for any period of time, it’s inevitable that your pursuit of good food becomes necessary, thanks to Chef Jason and Chef Rachel.
Here’s Sandra’s virtual postcard–
Ray and I travelled to Fogo Island this summer to meet up with Jonathan Gushue (the former chef at Langdon Hall), but unfortunately, he had a prior commitment that day and that we weren’t able to meet up. We were able to catch up with Sarah Villamere though (the former pastry chef at Langdon) and some other kitchen buddies.
We ended up tenting at Brimstone Head park in the town of Fogo. The weather was perfect (for the Maritimes) and the wind, oh the wind! I thought the tent was going to fly away and we’d be running through the field to catch it! Regardless, we hiked to the summit and picked massive amounts of wild blueberries along the way. We also did the Lion’s Den Trail (1-1/2 hours), which I highly recommend, although we did it counter-clockwise, and it was mostly uphill to add to the challenge. There are interpretive signs showing old photos where houses existed back in the 1800s and early 1900s. The landscape hasn’t changed, and you can see where the houses used to be, which was very cool.
We visited the famed Fogo Island Inn and were able to grab a table for lunch. I had the roasted cod with chanterelles, a salad with foraged berries and sweet pickled rhubarb (there was an all-you-could eat salad bar with a cornucopia of yumminess). For dessert, I had a raspberry sorbet with haskaps, and Ray had a tantalizing chocolate concoction that Sarah made especially for him (I guess it pays to make friends in the kitchen!). We also tried the Iceberg beer made at Quidi Vidi Brewery in St. John’s. It quickly became my favourite beer, and I am hoping to track it down in Ontario.
We knocked off some more awesome trails like Joe Batt’s Arm Trail. Here, you can view the Longhouse studio, and the local community veggie gardens tended by a local and Fogo Island Inn uses for their kitchen. The trail itself consists of larger beach rocks and you need to be very mindful of where you place your feet. People actually run on this trail! I was pretty much limping on the way back, even with hiking boots on (I guess I’m just a tenderfoot!).
It’s just endless beautiful scenery in Newfoundland. We also did the Blow Me Down Mountains trail outside of Corner Brook, and for an easier walk, Cobb’s Pond in Gander.
Snow Crab and Torrential Rain
Rounding back home through Nova Scotia, we stopped at the Baddeck Inn, an unassuming little inn on top of a hill. The rain was torrential at this point we spotted the vacancy sign with relief. The owner, a sweet old man that used to own race horses, let us know about the continental breakfast in the morn. We got to our room, and holy cow, the view!! The patio door offered a view overlooking the lake, even with all the rain. We slept with the doors open (but screen door closed) so we could hear the rain. What a hidden gem in plain sight!
For dinner we landed at the Baddeck Lobster Supper restaurant, and wow, EVERYTHING was homemade, even the iced tea. Ray had a huge snow crab and I had the fish chowder. So much food, I swear I waddled out of there! We did the continental breakfast as recommended the next day in a five-sided room. Three of the walls had floor to ceiling windows overlooking the lake so we could sip our morning coffee and drink in the stunning view.
Lobster Rolls and Curds Along the Way
In New Brunswick, did our usual beach bumming, lobster roll snorfing, and another gorgeous trail, Maliseet Falls in Woodstock (a lot of uphill, rocks, tree roots and mud), but well worth it. Wee booted it up there in half the time because the sun was starting to go down, and didn’t want to get stuck in the dark with all the tripping hazards. Gorgeous falls though!
We didn’t really get a chance to hike in Quebec, although we did stop at a fromagerie in LaPocantiere called Fromagerie Le Mouton Blanc, they have a farm right in the town (which is obscured behind the house), and they make the cheese right there. We picked up some bleu cheese and cheese curds (can’t beat these ones, THE best I have ever had, had the nice squeak and not too salty).
I wanted to share the highlights of our trip with your readers because I think it’s important for Canadians to discover their own backyard and the chefs that make eating local a treat.
The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see. –G.K. Chesterton
Jules Torti’s work has been published in The Vancouver Sun, The Globe & Mail, travelife, Canadian Running and Coast Mountain Culture. With experiences as a canoe outtripper, outdoor educator, colouring book illustrator and freelancer, she is thrilled to be able to curate, write and read about the very best things in life.