Start with a good bread, a bit of cheese, a condiment or two and a bowl of soup and you have the perfect recipe for a simple café. Part cheese market, part speakeasy, part café; Agrarian offers gourmet grilled cheese in the heart of Prince Edward County.
There’s much that can be said about a simple idea well executed. Agrarian, on the main street of the quiet tourist village of Bloomfield, Ontario is the down-to-earth brain child of Patricia McDermott. Homemade soups and fresh salads served, perfectly grilled sandwiches, fine cheeses, homemade mustards, relishes, chutneys, savory jams and jellies, a chunk or two of cured meat, a selection of sweets, a sassy little wine list and fair trade coffee and throw open the doors, you’re in business.
The uncomplicated, upscale country decor with walls of exposed brick and barn wood, straight backed chairs, an old church pue and a couple of oak barrels, is friendly and open with a touch of style. Customers smile when they walk in. The staff is genuinely happy to see you, the service is friendly, and the grilled cheese? D-lish!
In the company of Chef B, the chef in my life (as I often am), we sucked back a couple of well made sandwiches over the weekend before heading out for a day of wine tasting in Prince Edward County. Our Innkeepers, Kevin Buzkur & Kathleen Bazkur-O’Connell of Chatsworth Suites in Picton, ON assured us that Agrarian (newly opened in the spring of 2012) was a bustling little hot spot not to be missed. They also put us wise to the fact that Patrica’s husband, Bryan Rogers, is part of the Rogers family who own Keint-He Vineyard just up the road, and their chardonnay might be a good pick off the wine list.
What better way to start a day of sampling county wines than to get a jump start over lunch?
His Lunch: Sassy Sausage Surprise – onion cheddar, organic sopressata sausage with chipotle lime mustard and the daily soup; tomato basil ($10.00). County wine choice: Sandbanks Baco Noir 2011 ($9.00).
His thoughts: ”Wow,” between bites ”that’s a tasty little sandwich.” What can I say, he loves a sassy sausage surprise and, on this weekend, he was on a baco noir roll. The Sandbanks quickly became a favorite; filled with black fruit flavour, an undertone of tobacco and a hint of chocolate. It’s dry and slightly acidic, making it a terrific paring wine with big, beefy food choices and extraordinarily easy to drink.
The bread Agrarian used to make Agrarian’s tasty little sandwiches is absolutely exceptional; wood-fire oven baked, naturally leavened, organic county bread made by loving hands at Humble Bread. Dense, yet light, this bread has a unique quality all it’s own. Nutty, with the lightly pungent scent of raw fermentation that accompanies a good sourdough – ‘humble’ is indeed the word that captures it best. A local artisan bakery you’ll be reading more about, next week on Food Gypsy; Humble Bread is available by the loaf over the counter at Agrarian, along with a selection of cheeses.
Her Lunch: Spicy Blue Heaven – blue ermite & Frere Jacques cheeses with spicy vital wine jelly and the tomato basil soup ($10.00). County wine choice: Keint-He Chardonnay 2010 ($11.00).
Her thoughts: “I am a big fan of blue with a sweet condiment, add to that a little kick of heat and this truly gourmet grilled cheese. The soup, evenly spiced and ripe. Tomato and basil is a tough combination to pull off in balance and ensure it doesn’t taste like spaghetti sauce, but they nailed it.
The Keint-He chard has a almost smokey-toasty nose, with a bright yellow plumy start and a cool green apple finish. It’s pale and elegant in the glass and a good match for blue, sweet and heat. It is however, still a bit green. The vines are youthful, as are most in this young growing region. That said, the Keint-He chardonnay has potential, this is a winery to watch.”
This is also a tasty little spot to watch as we have it on good authority that they’re expanding for the 2013 summer season. Their cheese selection will swell, as will their space, annexing the shop next-door and a patch of ground outdoors for a small patio. Also growing; their wine and liquor list, moving them deeper down the naughty trail of the prohibition, backdoor speakeasy. Next time we head to Prince Edward County for gourmet grilled cheese, I might need to pack my flapper dress and beads.
275 Main St.