Refining our style

We have started this season’s round of menu wars, which, by the way, has gone very well, and it got me thinking about style.

I spend a few minutes on Pinterest every day, not looking at food, but at decorating and crafting ideas. I have been an avid primitive decorator and heritage craft buff for many years, and Pinterest has certainly slowed down my magazine buying (which my daughter Rachel will appreciate when I die and she has to go through my stuff).

When I did the annual magazine purge about a month ago, which is really just looking at my magazines for a day and keeping most of them, I noticed a real trend in the evolution of my style, which is also reflected on my Pinterest boards. Now, I can see that reflection in our upcoming menu as well.

When the kids were small, I was all about country – pine and gingham and borders on my walls. I lived in a log cabin for a while when they were small, and this greatly influenced my decorating style, although it is hard to put any kind of wallpaper border on a log wall. I have loved antiques and country decorating since high school, and still have the first real antique I bought with my own money when I was 18.

As the kids got older and I had more time and money, my decorating schemes became more Martha, with subdued powdery colours and rich looking fabrics – a very upmarket feel. I still had a great garden, put up my canning, and did my crafts, but I pared down the gingham and fussiness and went for classic good taste. I collected Wedgewood and Spode and amassed a huge number of high-end kitchen tools. I was organized, driven by perfection and really hard to live with, I suspect.

The kids left home and I refined my style further, caring less about perfection and more about authenticity, landing finally on a heritage-driven, primitive look that easily incorporates my rather substantial collection of unique “junque.” Now I look for quality and simplicity and find beauty in the well-used piece that shows its history.

This evolution to quality and simplicity shows itself in our menu as well. Gone are the days of trying to impress with frills and ruffles, special sauces, hard-to-stock ingredients and one-upmanship. The heritage of our town and our people, carefully thought-out flavours, and unique dishes characterize our food these days. The classics are still there, but Chef Joel has a clear vision about what is Star quality and what is not.

Of course, there are menu items we cannot get rid of (yes, the portobello mushroom is still on), but you will see a continued reflection of the traditions of our cooks past and present in our new menu, as well as a couple of my own favourites.

We hope you enjoy it.