August long weekend is destined to be spent in Muskoka – well, for those of us that don’t have the opportunity to get up North on the regular that is. So the past three-day weekend, I grabbed my better half and said, “Let’s get the hell out of this city.” Wasn’t too hard to convince him so we ventured onto the busy highway and off we went to Muskoka. Online I found a place called Taboo Resort… looked modern yet cozy. Better than that, it is located on the tip of Lake Muskoka, has three pools and is secluded from city life. But obviously I did need a damn good restaurant. Well I got better; have you heard of a culinary theatre? Neither had I but I was intrigued so off we went to experience a “Taboo Culinary Theatre.”
First I must admit, Taboo is gorgeous. Upon arrival, and after 4 hours of bumper-to-bumper highway traffic, stunning grounds that were surrounded by water, boats and a fantastic view greeted us. Once in our beautifully renovated room all we could hear were crashing waves – obviously Toronto was far, far away. Can I just say this was a true piece of heaven when I think of all the honking, yelling and horrifyingly loud trains that we hear living at Front and Bathurst?! Heaven I tell you – heaven! As a result, the first night we chose to stay in, enjoy a cheese plate and drink a wonderful Bordeaux we brought from home. We watched one of the most beautiful (and long) sunsets either one of us had ever seen, which alone made the weekend perfect.
However, the cheese plate came to an end, the wine was happily savoured and next thing you know it was Sunday. But Sunday meant a culinary theatre experience. So what does this mean? Well, I didn’t really know until I walked into Elements Restaurant, the upscale restaurant located in the resort, to find a beautiful U-shaped bar. Unlike regular bars, this one had a full kitchen on the inside with 18 seats surrounding it. Immediately I noticed two good-looking chefs with fabulous personalities prepping food while also engaging with eagerly awaiting guests. I soon became one of these guests, but not for long as the six-course tasting began. We started with an amuse bouche featuring one of my favourite foods: Muscovy Duck Prosciutto, served on Sourdough Crostini with Homemade Beer Mustard. Honestly, this was simple but when using such amazing ingredients, it’s also just pure tasty.
After this culinary tease, we started the culinary journey with a delectable cold soup of Chilled Curry Mango Soup with Kaffir Lime Leaf Foam and Prawn Salsa. Have I mentioned I don’t actually like soup? However, I do love prawns, and this soup was so fresh, so clean – it was just delightful. I have to say this being only the first course, I knew we were in for a real treat. To boot, every course was perfectly paired with a matching wine, in this case a stunning German Riesling.
Next up was a Summer Cucumber Salad with Heirloom and Candy Cane Beets, Granville Greens, and Soft Boiled Quail Eggs with Horseradish Dressing – hello summer. Where have you been all my life? Yep, this was summer on a plate paired with a deliciously crisp Vino Verde white wine with the sunset in the background. Am I making you jealous?
Course three was a Pan Seared Steelhead Trout with Roasted Red Pepper Marmalade, Scalloped-style Fingerling and Purple Potatoes. Again, clean, fresh and delicious. Next was Guinea Hen Two Ways: Braised Leg and Seared Breast with Sweet Parsnip Puree, Baby Purple and Green Spinach and a Fig and Port Reduction. This was one of my favourites just because I love parsnip puree, figs and port reduction – this combination of flavours worked so well. Surprisingly, I was not full either. The portions were small enough to enjoy the entire plate and given that the ingredients were so clean, it felt very light.
Last course before dessert was my favourite: Cold Smoked Venison Loin with Braised Cipollini Onions, Glazed Baby Carrots, and Red Quinoa. This was that same kind of heaven I felt watching the sunset the night before. Beautiful plating and the flavours were fantastic. Paired with a Bordeaux, I loved every minute of this plate.
Dessert was Bacon Caramel Coated Beignets with Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream and Sake Soaked Cherrie Coulis. (I know you drooled a little reading that description.) Well I will say that this was also very good but since doughnuts aren’t my thing, it wasn’t my favourite. Impressive side note: they discovered my boyfriend doesn’t eat bacon and made a special portion just for him that had no bacon. They apparently adapted to two other people’s dietary restrictions as well. After six courses, yes I think this is pretty impressive.
Thank you to Chefs Brian Segriff and Rory Mayne for making our weekend getaway tasty, theatrical and even teaching me a thing or two that I did not know. I must admit, I took a couple tricks home with me…
With Labour Day Weekend on the horizon, and the imminent demise of summer looming on the horizon, be sure to book your stay with Taboo Resort ASAP. Come October, you’ll regret not taking the trip.