You had me at Charcuterie…

Heaven. That’s what eating Chef/Sommelier Claude Aucoin’s Prosciutto was like.

Let me back up–on December 6th, Nicole celebrated her birthday/first anniversary of her ordination to the priesthood, and so we decided to do something special. We’d heard that Sugar Moon Farm was hosting one of their amazing chef’s nights that night, and so we figured what better way to celebrate than to treat ourselves to a dress-up, fancy 5-course meal?

Sugar Moon Farm is a 200 acre family-run maple syrup farm in Earltown, Nova Scotia, just a quick 20 minute drive from our place in Denmark. It’s really one of the biggest tourist attractions on the North Shore (besides Jost Wineries), and includes their restaurant and gift shop (open year round!), hiking trails, and seasonal Sugar Camp tours. I had yet to have even been to Sugar Moon yet before this evening, mostly because their hours also happen to collide with church stuff for most of the year (Saturdays and Sundays), so that makes it hard to get out. But we found that their Chef’s Nights–a few evenings throughout the year where select chefs from around the Maritimes are invited to come and showcase their talents amongst the atmosphere of great music and a rustic cabin setting–work almost perfectly with our schedules!

Tickets for a Chef’s Night ranged between $89.70 (this includes 15% gratuity and taxes, but you have to buy all your own drinks) to $125.46 (15% gratuity and taxes, and wine pairing with three of the courses, and maple-inspired cocktail of your choice, plus coffee or tea). So, Nicole and I got all dolled up (and I mean seriously dressed to the nines here) to go out for supper, and found out we were perhaps the best dressed people at the party (not always a bad thing, but in this case, I felt a little weird about that. Here I was in my tight, low-cut black dress in the same room as folks who were wearing their cozy plaid lumberjack shirts and jeans. While each of us looked equally awesome, perhaps the plaid lumberjack look made a little more sense in the sugar camp…). However, the rest of the folks at our table were also fairly dresses up, so we weren’t totally out of place.

The ambiance at Sugar Moon that night was wonderful. Quita Gray, one of the owners of Sugar Moon greeted us at the door and immediately asked us if we’d ever been to a Chef’s Night or Sugar Moon before. When we said no, she showed us around the Restaurant a bit, took our coats, escorted us to our table and introduced us to the people we were sitting with, and even checked in on us through the night! The space was lit by candle light from the beautiful table centerpieces (white votive candles in rose bowls with salt, surrounded by fir boughs), and the roaring fire in the fireplace in front of us (the one problem with the low-lit room was that our camera didn’t work very well, so there are sadly no pictures of our food). And instead of chairs, each table had benches on either side to give the space the feel of a camp kitchen.

So, the food! The menu for December 6th’s Chef’s Night went as such:

Hors d’Oeuvres on homemade croutons

Artisanal Breads served with Carrot Maple Butter and Red Wine Butter

Claude’s Homemade Charcuterie Plate (including Pork Loin Prosciutto, Air Dried Beef and Assorted Pâtés and Terrines; Maple and Cranberry Mustard, Cucumber Relish, Yellow Pepper Ketchup)

Evangeline Seafood Chowder (with an Assortment of Local Fish and Seafood) or creamy Asparagus soup (for those with fish allergies like me…)

Oulton’s Farm Roasted Spiced Rubbed Chicken Breast, Port, Maple and Herb Jus, Pulled BBQ Chicken Leg served on Creamy Polenta with Fall Roasted Vegetables

Flourless Chocolate Cake with 70% Dark Chocolate and Raspberry Mousse Quince Crème Anglaise, Maple Blueberry Coulis and Strawberry Rhubarb Sorbet served on gingerbread

And the review? Well, the food was amazing–especially the pork loin prosciutto. Oh my heavens, I have never had prosciutto that melted in my mouth the way Chef Aucoin’s prosciutto did. In fact, the entire charcuterie plate was fantastic (it helps that this is one of his specialties!)–the beef terrine was perhaps my second favourite, with my least favourite going to the air dried beef which was just too salty for my tastes. However, by we were starting to be full by the end of the soup course, and by the time the entree rolled around, neither Nicole or I thought we could manage to eat much of anything on our plates. And so, our biggest complaint?–portion size.

If the soup course had been a smaller serving, or if the charcuterie plate had had less on it, or if there hadn’t been any bread course at all, then maybe we could’ve managed to enjoy our dessert. As it was, by the time our desserts arrived, we were uncomfortably full. Now I know you could say we could’ve just eaten less of everything, which is true. But when there is that much on your charcuterie plate and it all tastes amazing, why wouldn’t you finish your course?

Our only other complaint–there was a serious lack of veggies. I was lucky because I couldn’t eat the chowder due to my salmon allergy (so I had a creamy Asparagus soup instead), but otherwise, the only veggies we got were in the butters (try convincing a dietitian that was a serving of vegetables!), in the small serving of roasted veg, and in the creamy broccoli polenta.

All in all, it was a wonderful evening of melt-in-my-mouth flavours and sensations, friendly atmosphere, and good drinks (the maple-inspired cocktails are totally worth it!). Even though I’ve spent today scrambling to fill up on vegetables whenever I see them, I would definitely go back to another Chef Aucoin’s Chef’s Night at Sugar Moon.

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