Andy, my English husband, loves to visit new places. When we lived in England and came back to visit the states over Christmas, we’d take him somewhere new like Boston or Washington, D.C. And when we moved here a few years ago, his interest in exploring the U.S. and Canada only grew. I enjoy it too, especially when it’s somewhere I haven’t been either.
We had long been discussing a trip to Niagara Falls and when we realized that our August was relatively quiet, we decided to stop talking about it and just do it. We rented a Prius on a weekend special and started asking people on social media if they had recommendations.
(Fielding Estate Winery, Beamsville, Ontario)
The response was unanimous from people in the know: Niagara Falls is gorgeous, but go to the Canadian side. And while the falls are supremely beautiful and majestic, don’t stay in the town – it’s a circus. So we started researching and asking what to do around Niagara Falls and again the response was unanimous: Niagara-on-the-Lake, Canada’s wine country. They had us at wine.
We solicited suggestions from friends and family for where to stay and which wineries to visit and it became immediately clear we needed more than a weekend for this trip, but we did some research and narrowed it down to a few stops. We booked a room at the Inn on the Twenty and made plans to visit Ravine Vineyard and have lunch, then head onto Fielding Estate Winery for a tour and tasting, followed by dinner at the Inn on the Twenty’s restaurant and a taste of the wine from their Cave Spring Cellars. We would do all that and then pass by Niagara Falls on our way home on Sunday.
(Ravine Vineyard, St. David’s Bench, Ontario)
I don’t know if it was because the weather was particularly gorgeous – cool and breezy, bright and sunny – or if the place just has a splash of magic, but the weekend completely exceeded our expectations. Niagara-on-the-Lake is a breathtakingly beautiful mix of the old barns and farms I grew up with combined with the endless vineyards of Napa Valley or the wine regions of France. It felt like an even more beautiful version of home.
At Saturday night’s dinner at the Inn on the Twenty, Andy and I ordered a peach carpaccio salad on a bed of greens with goat cheese and a light dressing. The idea of a carpaccio’ed peach stuck with me and the memory of Joe Yonan’s tomato, peach, and beet stacks (from his delicious new book Eat Your Vegetables) stuck with Mom. The result is a seasonal salad with goat cheese dressing, a new take on America’s beloved chunky, creamy blue cheese dressing. I’m getting peaches and tomatoes (and even beets) almost weekly in my CSA, so this is how I’ll be using up heaps of these gorgeous summer beauties.
Peach, Tomato, Beet Salad with Goat Cheese Dressing
There will be leftover dressing (thank God!) for a salad later in the week.
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
1/2 cup goat kefir (or cow kefir or buttermilk)
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground black pepper
2 ounces crumbled goat cheese, plus for extra for sprinkling
1 peach, halved and thin-sliced
1 beet, halved and thin-sliced
1 tomato, halved, thin-sliced, and lightly salted
Whisk garlic, mustard, kefir, and a few grinds of pepper in a 2-cup Pyrex measuring cup. Slowly whisk in oil to make a thick, flavorful dressing. Stir in crumbled goat cheese. (Can be covered and refrigerated several days ahead)
When ready to serve, arrange salad alternating peach, beet, and tomato halves, in a circular pattern. Drizzle with some of the dressing and serve.