A Taste of Devour at the Algonquin
Opening Event ~ Meet the Spirits ~ Hotel Crawl
The majestic, legendary Algonquin Resort has enjoyed a long and illustrious history with many famous guests enjoying its’ regal hospitality. Over the years, some guests have also shared a story or two on experiencing a little something extra here too. If you dare, explore this grand lady from her hidden passageways in her basement bowels to the mysterious spine-tingling happenings on the 4th floor, and walk into the ‘haunted hotel guest room’ as we did for our opening event entitled ‘Meet the Spirits’ ~ Hotel Crawl. Even Stephen King himself, thought this the perfect setting to hole up for two weeks while writing his iconic novel ‘The Shining’.
Strange occurrences & ghost stories were ‘unveiled’ throughout our haunted hotel hike with Daniel Schmitz, Algonquin Team tour guide and our group’s ‘Storyteller Extraordinaire’. Daniel delighted us with hair-raising tales in several key locations throughout this elegant Tudor-style castle and at each spot, we met one of the weekend’s participating chefs, and enjoyed a tantalizing delectable bite paired with a cocktail, a glass of wine, or a craft beer. It was a highly ‘spirited’ evening that everyone agreed was the perfect ice-breaker for this Devour! at the Algonquin weekend’s adventures & events to come.
The event culminated in the Passamaquoddy Room with a full length feature film viewing of ‘The Shining’ projected on a big screen with theatre-like seating (with lights off, of course). However, to be on the safe side, I only stayed for the first 20 minutes or so as goosebumps appeared on my arms and the hair began to stand up on the back of my neck and I thought it might be tricky to fall asleep in my 4th floor guest room later. Suffice it to say, that’s all it took, as just a teaser of Jack Nicholson in this iconic role, brought back a flood of memories (from watching it several times before) and despite my roommate’s snoring (sorry Laurie), I swear I heard something rolling along in the hallway, or creaking the floorboards near our doorway and the smoke detector’s occasional flashing lights gave me reason to squirm deeper under the covers. However, it was an excitement that I had not experienced since my high school days and I knew I was in for a great weekend, if only I could get some shut eye. I did eventually, and I highly recommend everyone take in this spook-tastic hotel tour. By the way, I have also promised myself, that one of these days - sometime very, very soon, I’m going to re-watch the film in its’ entirety (with my hubby right beside me). I do think I owe it to Stephen King for writing such a great novel and the Algonquin for providing such a fantastic weekend.
Your World is Your Oyster & Their Oysters are Their World
The Devour! at the Algonquin itinerary was full of interesting things to choose to do and one of them was an Oyster Workshop with Trevor & Michelle Munroe from Sheet Harbour, Nova Scotia. These two are as down-to-earth as you can get, and I really enjoyed getting to know them over the weekend. They gave an informative talk on their Sober Island Oyster Farm on Saturday morning, and aw, shucks… it was almost 11 o’clock, so a pairing with whisky was deemed just right, and the tasters all agreed. Later on, we enjoyed their company at our table for the Gala Dinner and these two are great fun! You never know, the Maritimes Maven just might have to explore Sober Island Oyster Farm sometime soon … There’s a reason we were seated together. I believe in serendipity and It just might be that ‘pearl in an oyster’ for us to meet.
Chef Melissa Kelly - Primo Restaurant, Rockland, Maine, Chef Todd Perrin - Mallard Cottage, St. John’s, Newfoundland, Chef Camille Pluymackers - Manuka, Moncton, New Brunswick, Chef Michael Howell - Devour! The Food Film Fest, Wolfville, Nova Scotia & Chef Jeff MacLean - Algonquin Resort, St Andrews by-the-Sea, New Brunswick went head to head in a Chowder Smackdown competition Saturday afternoon with proceeds going to St. Andrews and Area Open Door (Food Bank) Program. It was next to impossible to pick one favourite chowder out of these five variations and although the winner was announced at the Gala Dinner, I think the real winner was anyone who participated as tasters. I wouldn’t kick any of these chefs out of my kitchen. Nor would you. Oh my YUM! - these chowders were tasty.
Whisky Workshop with the Whisky Lassie
Johanne McInnis, the Whisky Lassie entertained the troops later in the afternoon. She walked a large group of us through an appreciation & recognition of the flavours & aromas associated with smoke & peat and kept us spellbound and participating fully (and reined in despite our whiskey intake). Well, she did warn us that after the 3rd whisky, things always get very interactive in her workshops. Her deconstruction highlighting the differences from zero peat to heavily peated whisky was engaging, especially with her quick wit & comedic replies to questions & comments. If you ever get the chance to go to one of her workshops - go! She’s a hoot but also extremely knowledgeable and I promise you will learn a thing or two! Although, somehow… after it was all over, my roommate and I got separated and I got a text from Laurie who couldn’t quire locate our Room 428, (maybe it was because it was Room 482)… but then again “…could’ve been the whisky…”
Devour! Food & Film Gala Dinner ~ Oh What a Night It Was!
The champagne flowed and oysters were slurped while we all gathered like old friends for the main event. Five short films inspired a five-course, regionally-sourced dinner including wine pairings prepared by Chefs Todd Perrin, Melissa Kelly, Michael Howell, Camille Pluymackers and the Algonquin’s own Jeff MacLean. Oh, what a night it was! Each film drew us in and touched on different emotions; we sighed, smiled, giggled with surprise, laughed out loud at times, and nearly cried at the sentimentality. Each Chef also greeted us and spoke to their dish, which were all thoughtfully inspired, prepared, presented and paired perfectly with a great wine. I have to give kudos to all the chefs for the amazing showcase of talent they exhibited. It really was a night to remember. And yes, Laurie and I even found our way back to 482, although we had the two of us to do it this time.
The Salty Spell of St. Andrews by-the-Sea
A guided walking tour was enjoyed earlier Saturday morning with local historian Lorne Webster. He highlighted the most famous & infamous residents of this popular resort town. and shared sorted tales of smuggling, hangings, devastating fires and great storms.
A lovely stop was also enjoyed mid-point at Treadwell Inn to learn more about St. Croix Olive Oil followed by a private tasting. Lorne was a wealth of information and shared a few compelling facts that had us awestruck. Did you know there are more millionaires per kilometre here in St. Andrews than any other town and that in the 1950’s & 1960’s the local liquor store was reputed to sell more imported champagne than any other liquor store east of Montreal? There’s no question the upper crust enjoyed summering here and the Algonquin was frequented by royalty and very famous guests.
The Algonquin ~ A Fairytale Setting in St. Andrews by-the-Sea
To stay at the Historic Algonquin Resort is like walking into a fairytale and sinking into a luxurious dream. This magical castle on the hill charms you like no other. There is an ambiance that sweeps you off your feet when you first enter ~ it gets me every single time. It holds you spellbound the entire time and I have to say, it is hard to say goodbye. But the great thing is that this Grand Lady is right here in the Maritimes so we can visit anytime we want. And I do! Often!
You sense the history & grandeur here, the echoes of the past and the splendour of the present. This year the Algonquin has a lot to celebrate ~ it is her 130 birthday! Watch for ongoing special events (see link below).
A Sunday Farewell Film & Decadent Brunch
We were treated one last time Sunday morning as a final farewell brunch, very fitting with the Sunday Brunches the Algonquin has always been well known for. It was a wonderful weekend enjoying Devour! at the Algonquin. We all concurred and promised we will be back again next year.
Thank you’s were given, a sweet final film was enjoyed and surveys were filled out to give feedback to the organizers. There wasn’t a thing I would change or recommend ~ everything was exceptional. Well, maybe Stephen King’s surprise appearance one of these years … on the 4th Floor… just wandering about. Wouldn’t that disrupt some guest’s sleep?! I do want to give Lia Rinaldo and Michael Howell my utmost congratulations though for putting on another great DEVOUR! event. Denise Bradbury’s organization & the Algonquin Team’s hospitality was served up on a silver platter and my guess is every single guest left glowing reviews going away very happy with the amazing value they got for their ticket price.
Personally, I met so many lovely new people. Laurie told me the same. We all exchanged hugs and promised to visit and stay in touch and to see each other again soon as we all saw many, many more DEVOUR events in our futures. I hope my experience has you considering one in yours and this one ~ at the Algonquin, is beyond enchanting.
This post was sponsored by Devour! at the Algonquin; however, all thoughts and opinions are my own. Follow me - the Maritimes Maven on FaceBook, Instagram, Pinterest & Twitter. Also be the first to receive my latest stories by subscribing to my blog by simply clicking on the link at the top of this story.