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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

dinner at Statlander's farm

This past Friday night I was lucky enough to enjoy dinner at Michael Stadtlander's farm, Eigensinn. What a treat! It has been on my bucket list for years, but at over $250/person it didn't look like it was happening anytime soon.

I won't bore you with the details of how I got the chance to have dinner there, suffice it to say, the Gods were looking out for me.

Getting There!
We started our journey from Toronto at 3:30pm on Friday with the hope of arriving at the farm for 6:30pm, and sitting down to our dinner reservation for 7pm. Traffic was a nightmare! It was one of those drives where everything (while really nothing) goes wrong. It felt like every other driver was conspiring to keep us from our fabulous meal! At one point I was so nervous about Bruce's attempts to make up lost time, I broke the cardinal rule and questioned his driving skills! I asked him "What if there is a group of young children milling around on the road just over the crest of the hill?" Let me tell ya', he loves questions like that! He assured me that even if that happened with him going 80 km, it wouldn't be good for any of us! Fair enough. Floor it baby, floor it!

Just before 7pm we skidded into the parking lot at the B&B, Bruce threw our overnight bag into our room and we jumped into the shuttle with our dinner companions. Here, I have to mention that the driver of the shuttle could have been Jack Palance, remember his character in City Slickers, he was our driver, I kid you not!
So now we're all a bit more relaxed, we're on our way, we're not THAT late, I guess, unless say our driver doesn't respond to our concerns that we've passed the turn off for the farm! Or that when we arrive at the restaurant in Singhampton (that isn't even open yet) he's somehow mad at us that he's been given the wrong information and seems to be intentionally moving slowly! THEN, totally pissed he heads back to the farm. Poor Christian gets on the phone again (he's already called 30 times, okay he says 6 times, but I bet that really means 10 times) He's called once to find out the dress code, now they know we're not cool! Then he made at least 2 attempts to find out what was being served so we could pair wine, they weren't telling! and this has to be bear minimum the 3rd call apologizing about being so damn late! For God's sake, we're stalking Michael Stadtlander, how has this happened! Okay so, we're good to go now, right? No, all of the sudden Jack Palance pulls into a driveway and turns the car around, he's GOT TO GET GAS he announces! Is he kidding us! This is insane! THEN when he pulls out of the gas station, he heads away from the farm. This is when I went to my happy place, there was nowhere else to go!

Finally, really I mean, FINALLY we arrive at the Eigensinn Farm at about 7:20pm. Jack tells us to give him 20 minutes lead time for when we want him to pick us up (my plan is to walk back to the B&B) and then he tells us not to go in the door marked "entrance" but he waves to the left, and tells us to go in over there, and then, snickering, I'm sure, he drives off!

Honestly, it was like being in a cheap horror movie! We had no idea what to expect next. The grounds weren't what I expected. I'm not sure what I expected though. I think more of a Hollywood version of a farm. This was not a Hollywood version. Dilapitated is too strong a word to describe the house, barn and the grounds but "beautifully manicured property" wouldn't ring true either! It is a true, authentic working farm.
Now it's awkward because all four of us are at a lose of what we should do next. There is a door marked "entrance" but we've been told not to use it. There is a door marked "private", clearly not an option. As we are accessing our options, (honestly if the Texas Chainsaw Massacre guy had jumped out at us, not one of us would have been surprised!) Micheal Stadtlander comes flying out of the back door, and yells good naturedly at us to just go in through the kitchen! At least now I felt more like we were in a quaint English comedy rather than a heart beat away from never being seen again.

A bunch of easy going 20 somethings ushered us through the kitchen and into the dining room to meet Nobuyo, Stadlander's wife, the worlds most inviting person, and we've done it! We've finally made it there!

The Dining Room
The best word I can use to describe the dining room is "Kitchy", and I mean that as a compliment. There are an amazing array of paintings covering the walls. Stadtlander's son is a painter, he painted the picture of Michael and Nobuyo, and I'm not sure how many more. There was a wild chandelier of sorts, I say "of sorts" because it was never lit while we were there, so I'm not sure if it was a hanging piece rather than a light fixture. It looked like some kind of vine with sea shells and a plastic baby doll embellishing it. The ceiling was painted a bunch of different colors with several large gilded gold ameba like shapes all over it. The powder room's walls were covered in cement with river rocks embedded in it and a sea shell. There was a small art piece that was a fish head in a shoe! Kitchy, no other way to explain it! Oh yeah, their glass selection was never ending too! The dishes are all made in house or designed there and then made locally! It's a locavore's dream!

The room seats 12, for our evening's purposes there are 2 tables of two and 2 tables of 4 people, the other diners dinners are in full swing when we arrive. At the farm it is strictly BYOB and boy have we brought it! There is no shortage of wine at our table.

The Dinner
Nobuyo is an amazing character! We had so much fun with her and her knowledge of wines as fantastic! She is a great spirit who really enjoys what she does. It was like we were being guided through the dinner. Our first dish was a smoked ham, done on the property, on a slice of bread, baked in the kitchen, then there was a fantstically piece of fatty bacon, all done there, on another slice of bread, a baby leek in a tomato sauce with a hunk of lamb, a dumpling, a fantastic fish concoction and then an oyster. That's just the first dish!
This is a picture I found on line, different food same dish

There was a soup, there was lamb, there were chesses, it was all fantastic. Towards the middle of the meal, I had the same feeling I do at weddings, when I realize that once again I haven't left room for the seafood platter!

There were four desserts offered too! Amazing! At the end of the meal Michael, I call him Michael now, joined us for a glass of scotch and a chat. He was really generous with his time. He regaled us with stories and answered all our questions.

I found this on-line, I think it's the actual dog!

As we left through the laundry room, stepping over the dog, I must say I did have a bit of a feeling that great lengths were gone to, to show us that great lengths had not been gone to!

All I know is that I totally admire people who can totally live their dream, without compromise, while making their guests feel like they have had an evening so special & unique, that few will ever have the chance to experience. Hats off to Michael & Nobuyo Stadtlander.

Bits I have to mention but couldn't fit in!
Christian told me that when Michael Stadtlander started the farm almost 20 years ago he didn't have any money so he borrowed it all from a loan shark! I have no idea if that is true or not, I hope it is though! It so adds to the story of it all!

He has a blog. It is hilarious series of little snippets, vignettes if you will, called "Every day is Special TV"

Coming soon...
Michael Stadtlander's Pin Spiel Project - August 19-28th, 2011
$450 per person including wine and HST. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Japanses Relief Fund. Call 519-922-3128 for reservations.

Soon he is opening a restaurant in the metropolise of Singhampton, called Haisai, there is a restaurant and a bakery. Not sure exactly when...

1 comment:

  1. I'm pretty sure that's Tommy, but he passed away last year. And no loan sharks were involved, just a family member.