One afternoon in late August, I had travelled far from the sticky and humid city of Toronto and arrived at the more temprate locale of Brooklands Farm in Muskoka. As the sun continued its descent toward a stand of trees on the horizon, the smell of fire and barbeque wafted in the air and mingled with scents of grass and growth. Chickens clucked in the distance and a happy black dog roaming the grounds came over to greet me as I made my way toward a cabin tucked behind a large barn. Ostensibly, I was here for the 1st anniversary of Butter & Egg Road, but really, I was happy to grasp onto this opportunity to eat, sing, and celebrate the close of a busy summer.
Brooklands Farm is actually on Butter & Egg Road and has been in the Riley family since 1876. The milk bottles that line the barn clues us in to its previous incarnation as a dairy and the 3-digit phone number (4-R-23!) on the sign high in the barn hearkens back to a time where people had to crank on a lever to talk on the phone. Everything is tidy and neat at Brooklands – almost genteel – as in addition to being a working farm, they space is rented out for events and weddings. Ivy Ackerman, who crafts these experiences and is the heart and soul of Butter & Egg Road (the company, not the area), led an enthusiastic introduction to the farm and to our hosts, Katya and Ken Riley (lovely people and so welcoming), and explained the ties of this area to her travelling supper club.
On our way in, I had hoped to get some super-fresh corn to bring home, but alas, that was not to be. The sign for the farm indicated that they were all out. Maybe the bears ate them (the downed stalks were due to thirsty ursines). However, on our walk about the farm, I did get to eat corn that was only seconds off the stalk. I was nearly dancing with delight as Ken handed me the silk-wrapped treasure. I hastily peeled back the husk. With a satisfying crunch, my teeth sank into kernels that burst with flavour and sweetness. We were told that usually corn is sweetest when picked in the morning. I can attest that corn plucked at 6pm is still delicious.
After feeding some chickens their dinner, we returned to the house and sorted ourselves around the long country table for our own meal. The boys from Barque Smokehouse had trekked up from Toronto to cater the evening. I’d seen them in the kitchen and by the grill outside when I’d arrived, and finally I would get to taste what I could only smell earlier.
For dessert, we had two kinds of pie: bourbon pecan (accompanied by smoked & charred pineapple) from the Barque boys, and a raspberry pie from Tastebuds in Gravenhurst (Ivy’s favourite pie). Over the course of the evening, company had been enjoyable and food plentiful. I was deliciously replete. But the evening was still young and so we all headed out to the fire pit. Fellow dining companion, Justin Rutledge, pulled out his guitar and we sat around listening to him sing, as well as singing along. People leaned back, warmed by the fire, and just enjoyed the evening. All the while, marshmallows were toasting up near glowing embers and delicious blueberry donuts (another of Ivy’s local favourites) were consumed.
The clouds across the night sky framed a glowing moon; the stars were present, but muted in a blanket of blue. The ground still held onto the day’s warmth and the wind was yet still balmy. Strains of song floated softly in air as we prepared for the trip home. It felt like what summer camp would be like as things come to a close; knowing that summer was drawing to an end and squeezing every last bit of sun and fire and song out of the night. A really lovely evening that I didn’t want to end.