julie in wonderland

me and michael in one of the magical settingsMagic does exist. I found it in the woods of Eigensinn Farms last Sunday when I was invited to Michael Stadtlander’s PineSpiel Project. I thought it was just lunch, albeit a 12-course lunch. It was so much more.

IMG_3989the dining tableYes there was pine. And food… fabulous, creative and unbelievably delicious food including the best duck I’ve had since Beijing. But food almost didn’t matter.

Our group of eight was greeted in the parking lot; led up a used wine bottle lined path to the first station. Hor d’oeuvres were being grilled on a pig shaped barbeque. We opened the bottle of Dom Perignon Rose 2004 we had brought. It’s all BYOB, which suited our team perfectly. While I fancy myself a foodie the rest of my friends were wine experts and were showing off! Our adventure had begun.IMG_3859

We followed Nobuyo (Michael’s wife and the one who makes everything work) through the woods and fields from one incredibly imaginative oasis to the next. Each food station was completely different. Sometimes we sat on logs, sometimes on long benches, sometimes we stood. We ate off leaves and wooden planks, from pine skewers and from beautiful fish and duck shaped dishes.

fish sausageduck soupThe majority of the food comes from their farm. Ducks and chickens run around the yard, pigs are aged to 14 months and vegetables are picked when ripe. This attention to sourcing is one reason everything tastes so good.

roast porkfish appetizerThe other is that Michael is a damned good chef who has been at it along time! He grew up on a farm cooking with his mother and grandmother (this project is inspired by childhood memories), was a chef in the German navy and worked at restaurants in Europe. He befriended Canadian Jamie Kennedy when they were both at the Grand Hotel National in Switzerland. In 1980, when Jamie was tapped to head a new restaurant called Scaramouche back in Toronto, he brought his German friend as co-chef; Michael came to Canada.

the family at workHe proceeded to follow an unconventional path culminating in Eigensinn Farm. The name comes from a Hermann Hesse poem and means single-minded or obstinate. He and Nobuyo are stubborn about offering the best experience and refusing to compromise. We ate here 23 years ago. It has become more eccentric, more adventurous and even better since then.

PineSpeil is only on until September 18… beg, bribe or steal if it helps you get a chance to try it.

black forest cakeAfter, the magic will continues… the Stadtlanders will return to serving their ever-changing divine 8-course dinners. And in case you want to take a little enchantment home with you, their annual Christmas Market will be held on December 18. This is your chance to buy their products including ducks, chickens, preserves and special Christmas baking. I can’t wait to fill up the freezer.IMG_3991

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