Six years ago, I wrote a post about my top 3 culinary dream trips.
This month, I finally visited one of those destinations.
Trout Point Lodge.
What had attracted me when I read about this eco-wilderness resort years ago were the culinary opportunities. Visiting Trout Point Lodge in person, I discovered that this is just one aspect that makes this place so special.
Situated on 100 acres of Tobeatic Wilderness, in the UNESCO designated Southwest Nova Biosphere Reserve, Trout Point is a wilderness lodge and nature retreat. They adhere to very high standards of environmental sustainability while offering a luxury experience.
When I showed up at the hotel, late, nerves frayed, stiff from sitting and gripping the steering wheel all the way from Halifax, feeling hot and grimy from the combination of heat, humidity, 3 ½ hours of flying and 4 ½ hours of driving, I was greeted warmly at the front desk. It’s entirely possible (make that “likely”) that I looked as frantic as I felt, because they seemed to know exactly what I needed, without me asking. When the woman who checked me in offered to bring in my luggage and park my car, then put a cold glass of white wine in my hand, I was so grateful, I could have kissed her!
I had arrived just in time for cocktail hour, when guests are invited to come together in the great room for drinks, mingling, and live music. This room opens out onto a large balcony with views of the surrounding forest and river. Standing on the balcony, wine in hand, breathing in the pure, clean air, music playing in the background, I could feel the stress dissipating from my body.
At dinner, guests are assigned seats, which I thought was a great way to ensure that I met people. Left to my own devices, I might have stuck myself in a corner, but as soon as I sat down (at the head of the table, no less) with two couples who were traveling from the United States, conversation flowed, and continued well past dessert. Whether they had carefully chosen my dining companions, or whether it was just a stroke of luck, I had a great time meeting such interesting people.
And the food? Oh my goodness, the food! The low lighting made for a beautiful ambience, but did not lend itself to food photography. So you’ll have to trust me when I tell you that the meal was not only delicious, but artistically presented. There are few decisions to be made here, as Trout Point Lodge offers a set meal, where you only have to choose between 2 or 3 options for each course. I started with the best cauliflower and cheese soup that I have ever had. Smooth and velvety, savory and fresh—if not for the fact that I was in public, I might have licked the bowl. This was followed by fresh salmon en papillote, sitting on a bed of asparagus. When I pulled back the parchment paper and released the steam from the packet, the aroma was heavenly for someone who lives in a city with no access to truly fresh fish. For dessert, I opted for house-made ice cream and a cappuccino.
I was the only person who brought a phone and wallet to the table, and it was clearly out of place. First of all, there is no cell service at Trout Point Lodge (though I actually had my phone with me for the camera). Secondly, no money changes hands during the course of your stay. You can opt for full or half board meal plans, and it is all settled at the time you check out.
Mother Nature interfered in my after-dinner plans. Two things I was really looking forward to were pre-empted by the foggy, rainy weather: star-gazing (it was the week of the Perseid meteor shower and Trout Point is known as one of the best places for astronomical observations in North America—not to mention the fact that they have an astronomer on staff to provide guidance and interpretation) and enjoying a bonfire in the huge outdoor fire pit, surrounded by a ring of Muskoka chairs.
I have never slept in a place where the night was absolutely pitch dark and completely silent. When I climbed into bed, I thought, “this will be the best sleep of my life.” However, being accustomed to living in a large city, surrounded by people and cars and dogs and bars, I found it challenging to fall asleep in silence. Clearly, this is evidence that I need to spend more time at Trout Point Lodge – I have no doubt that within a day or two, my body and mind would relax and adjust.
The next morning, I set out with Vaughn Perret, one of the owners of the Lodge, for a wild food walk. This was fascinating! In addition to growing their own vegetables and herbs to use in cooking, staff here regularly forage for ingredients in the forest. Unfortunately, the area is experiencing a severe drought this summer, so there were fewer edible plants to be found than usual. But what a lesson in opening your eyes to your natural surroundings. As we wandered through the woods, Vaughn pointed out the low water levels in the river, and that the cranberry bog was dry.
I had some work to catch up on, so when I returned to the Lodge, I planted myself on the balcony with my laptop and a huge glass of the spring water that runs freely from the faucets (and even in the showers). It was hard to concentrate—not because there was so much going on around me, but because there was not. I just wanted to soak it all in. From my seat, I could see hummingbirds hovering around a feeder. I could gaze out through the trees to the Tusket River. I could revel in the sounds of nature, breathe fresh air, and just be still.
Following this little interlude, I had scheduled a cooking class in the Trout Point Lodge kitchen. The topic of these classes changes from day to day. On the day that I was there, I was the only guest who had signed up, so I benefitted from one-on-one instruction in pasta-making. Over the course of a couple of hours, we made squash-stuffed ravioli with a sage brown butter sauce, spaghetti with a rich tomato sauce, and squid ink fettucine with pesto—from scratch! We mixed and kneaded the dough, let it rest, rolled it out, ran it through a pasta machine, cut it, dried it, and cooked it. Along the way, we simmered a tomato sauce, whizzed up a pesto, and browned butter. Justin, who was a patient and knowledgeable instructor, almost made me believe that I could do this myself at home.
I did not feel uncomfortable as a solo guest at Trout Point Lodge for one second, in spite of the fact that I was surrounded by couples. A sense of calm and quietness pervades the resort, so that even when people engage in conversation, they do so in slightly hushed tones. If you wish to sit quietly and read, you can do so, and no one will disturb you. If you wish to engage in conversation or activities with others—fishing, canoeing, foraging, cooking, or hiking—you can do that as well. You can wander down the trail and sit in the wood-fired hot tub overlooking the river, take a sauna, go for a swim, or just relax in the great outdoors.
There was only one thing I didn’t like about this experience, and that was leaving the Lodge. I would love to return someday to experience it in the fall, to walk in the woods, to see the changing of the seasons, to curl up in front of a wood fire at the end of the day. It truly was a dream trip for me, if only for a day.
This trip was supported by Nova Scotia Tourism. As always, the opinions and experiences are my own.