At the last minute, I invited Frankie to come along for the weekend I’d planned to spend solo in the County. My daughter was eight and stubborn, she wanted to stay in the city. I told her we’d see ducks, we’d go to the beach, there would be kids to play with. No dice. I had one more try in me. “Maybe we’ll grab a super special strawberry soda on the way?” Sold.
She sits in the front seat now, with her long legs and filling-out body, and we have conversations you can only have in the front seat. First stop in the County is a cookie delivery at the new Honey House Cafe in Consecon, then another cookie delivery at the Bean Counter in Picton, and between the two, that super special soda at Jamie Kennedy’s Farm in Hillier.
I’d only been to The Farm once before. It was a harvest dinner in late September of 2020 during the pandemic. My best friend Alice and I went together and ate ten delicate and perfectly composed courses sequestered at our socially-distant-from-others table. After the sun went down, she and I took our wine glasses down to the bench by the fire and promptly sat on one end of it together. Of course, the whole bench flipped up like a see-saw and knocked us both onto the ground, first her, then me on top. Somehow, we managed to fall with our wineglass-hands in the air and not a single drop spilled. This is how to become a legend.
The rain doesn’t let up on the drive—not on the 401, not at the Honey House Cafe and not as we pull into JK’s farm. We drive slowly down the grassy path and follow the arrows to the small parking field. There’s just one other car there today due to the rain. We lucked out.
The Farm is picturesque; it feels like Northern California—the aged wood of the barn, the red tin roof on the main house, the airstream parked just past the open kitchen—in the rain and fog it feels like being in a dream. This is the magic I come to the County for.
As soon as I park the car, Frankie jumps out wearing her pyjama pants and crocs and starts running up that hill to get her soda.
Up in the farm kitchen, Jamie’s sons are prepping and chatting. I hope to not be recognized by one of them as the woman who called him “the fry guy” at Dunes Beach two weeks ago. They’re all too good-looking, all these sons of Jamie’s—you just have to get over it, sit down and eat the fries.
A very kind young woman greets us at the kitchen counter and reads the chalkboard menu, item by item. I order a cone of the signature fries with housemade apple cider vinegar mayo, a spring green salad, one of the strawberry rhubarb sodas, and a brownie for dessert. It’s basically, a perfect meal.
Jamie comes out of the kitchen and says hello. This man is always so kind. Always genuine in his greetings.
“Hi Eden,” he says, with his calm and open smile.
“Hi Jamie—nice to see you! This is my daughter Frankie.”
“Hey Frankie,” he says, “thanks for coming to visit.” She nods shyly, with her eyes on the tray of brownies on the counter. He doesn’t speak to her like she’s a kid. I love adults like this.
Frankie chooses a table with an umbrella, which hasn’t done anything against the rain—the table and chairs are all soaked. Jamie comes out of the kitchen with his apron on, wipes everything down for us, and we take a seat.
There’s a huge Manitoba Maple tree on the property between the barn and the kitchen, the kind you’d see in a Maurice Sendak book, it creates cover for a few small tables and chairs and adds to the fairytale quality of the place. Down the small hill where the table is perched there’s an opening in the trees and a field beyond it.
A few minutes pass and I wonder why the food is taking so long. We go up to the counter to check it out—it’s just fries and salad, I think to myself…should be fast.
Jamie’s standing over his counter with a small stainless steel bowl in front of him, and in it, my salad. I feel like a jerk for being impatient now, because he’s treating the salad like something he cares about. He lifts each leaf almost meditatively. Making something beautiful, that’s what he does with everything here. The rush is mine, not his.
When the tray is ready Jamie brings it to our table. He presents it like art. Frankie is pretty gobsmacked about the strawberry rhubarb soda with two red-and-white straws doing the splits in the cup. There’s a strawberry on top of the ice and a mint leaf garnish. The stamped-paper cone of perfect fries (these are the best fries I’ve ever had, hands-down) sit on a wooden fry-stand, the spring greens salad with slivers of radish, and that dense fudge brownie with the lidded crust that Frankie grabs a hunk of immediately and shoves it in her mouth. She chuckles at me with instantly brown teeth.
I dig into my salad, eat a fry here and there to balance it out, and try to get sips of the soda before Frankie slurps it all. Everything is so delicious. As we’re finishing up, Jamie comes over with a paper bag, “Eden, I’d like you to take something with you—it’s this bone broth I made.”
“Ooh, I love bone broth. What’s your method?”
(Okay, note here—if you ask a chef their method, you will get their method…) Jamie bends a knee and puts his foot on one of the chairs.
“I start with bones. Cow bones. Roast those in the oven…we get really beautiful beef from a farm out in Tweed…”
I confess that I often don’t listen to words, not in these moments. Sometimes words are too small when all these other things are going on I want to pay attention to—mostly that when someone takes a moment to describe their craft to you, it’s an in to who they are. It’s intimate and I’m totally absorbed. Frankie takes this opportunity to eat my share of the brownie.
“….and then I poach a cow neck”
“What?! A neck?”
He makes a small ring with his hands, “yes, the whole neck.”
I make a bigger ring with my hands – “Jamie, a cow neck is huge!”
Jamie looks kind of mischievously delighted now, “Oh yeah”, he says, “it is.”
We laugh. Frankie scowls at the cow neck. Pretty sure she can’t imagine anything more disgusting.
I clear off our tray into the bin and say goodbye to the kitchen staff and to Jamie. I tell Frankie to thank Jamie and instead she says, “I want another brownie!” and laughs hard at herself.
“Frankie!” I say, “don’t!”
Jamie laughs. Yep, this is my kid. That unabashed chutzpah, that lust for the good stuff of life. We make our way down the small hill to our parked car and at the halfway point Jamie calls out to us.
“Hey Frankie, I have something for you…” He comes down to where we stand on the hill and hands Frankie a folded paper napkin with a brownie in it. “Don’t tell your mom.”
Eden Hertzog is an entrepreneur/mom/writer/musician/food lover who splits her time between Toronto and Prince Edward County, where her heart lives. She owns New Moon Kitchen, a specialty cookie company in Toronto that she founded when she was 19. Her greatest passion is healing and core energetics, and will one day weave each and every one of these passions together.