Chez Piggy rocks Kingston restaurant scene...Rain great news for Australia
KINGSTON - I'm always leery of restaurants that offer too many styles of food or types of cuisine.
My general rule of thumb is that if you want Thai food, go to a Thai restaurant. If you want Mexican, go to a Mexican place, etc....
I'd heard great things about Chez Piggy in Kingston, Ontario - where I was Wednesday for a family graduation. But I must admit I arrived and looked at the menu and thought, "Hmmm....that's a lot to bite off,"if you'll pardon the pun. There were sea scallops in a spicy Thai sauce, poached Halibut, confit of Muscovy duck, Vietnamese spring rolls and a couple Spanish-Mexican looking dishes.
I was a tad skeptical, but the duck confit was almost as good as what I had in southern France last month, complete with creamy mashed potatoes and tasty red cabbage. The halibut was about as perfect and moist as I've ever tasted, and the scallops were nearly as perfectly cooked and perfectly spiced. Actually, one of the folks in my party found them a bit TOO spicy until the waiter suggested she turn them over and let some of the sauce soak up the hot spices.
The waiter we had was terrific; attentive but not overly sappy or anything. The prices were reasonable, although the wild mushroom soup at, I believe, $6, was about the smallest cup of soup I've ever had. They made up for it with a nice plate of thinly sliced octopus with arugula, although at $12 that wasn't cheap, either.
I liked the decor; rough, exposed stone walls and some funky paintings and a couple Navajo-looking blankets on the wall. A nice wine list, although a few more choices by the glass would've been good.
Overall, a very pleasant spot. The courtyard looks very nice but it was rainy on Wednesday so we were indoors. Apparently the restaurant was an abandoned limestone stable at one point, and there are lots of nooks and crannies and alleyways to lead you to the place, between Princess and Brock Streets in the heart of downtown.
I spotted a nice cookbook on the way out and wish now that I'd bought one. But there's only so much time for cooking at home, so maybe it's just as well not to overload the bookshelves with one more cooking manual....
Anyway, it's a spot I'd highly recommend. I'd forgotten until today that it was co-founded by one of the members of the Lovin' Spoonful, Zal Yanovsky. A very underrated band, they were. I remember being 12 years and buying the single "Summer in the City" and looking it on my bunk beds at home, only to suddenly stand up and forget it was underfoot. It didn't sound so good cracked in half....
ROCKY MOUNTAINEER SALE
I got a press release today from the Rocky Mountaineer folks. They've got a deal where guests can enjoy a free hotel night in Vancouver as a part of their award-winning, Western Canadian rail vacation. Guests who book a Rocky Mountaineer tour in GoldLeaf Service of three nights or more or a RedLeaf service tour of five nights or more, from now until August 31, 2010, will be treated to an additional free night at a Fairmont hotel in Vancouver either at the beginning, or end of their trip.
To qualify for the additional free night’s stay at a Fairmont hotel in Vancouver, visitors must book a Rocky Mountaineer vacation package in GoldLeaf Service of three nights or more or a RedLeaf service tour of five nights or more, for at least two adults. Offer is based on double occupancy by August 31 for travel between June and October 2010 and only valid on new bookings. Further restrictions may apply.
I did the Rocky Mountaineer train from Vancouver to Whistler during the Winter Olympics and loved the views and the service.
For more information, call (800) 665-7245 or visit www.rockymountaineer.com.VEGAS DEAL
Vegas.com promises to take away the pain of those add-on baggage fees by giving visitors a rebate up to $50.
To get the deal, you must book your travel to Las Vegas on vegas.com, which claims to be "the world's largest destination travel web site."
The rebate is good for bookings made from June 3 to June 21, for stay dates until Aug. 21, reports my Vegas spy/reporter, Kathleen Kenna.
More details: www.vegas.com/baggagefree.
The site suggests visitors pack extra for their trip, including "an Elvis jumpsuit, lava lamp ... briefcase full of one-dollar bills (and) a collapsible massage chair."
For a chance to win Vegas "swag", visit www.facebook.com/vegas
If you haven't seen it, check Kathleen's story today on the "Big Elvis" impersonator in Vegas. It's a touching story, with great photos. And don't forget the Collingwood, Ontario Elvis impersonator festival is coming up at the end of July. For info, go to www.collingwoodelvisfestival.com.THINGS LOOKING UP DOWN UNDER
There's been an "unprecedented: flow of rain into Australia's outback "inland sea" for two years in a row, they say. Typically, Lake Eyre fills up every 50 years. But now it's been two years in a row, and the normally inhospitable region is blooming with life; pelicans, gulls, terns and fish, as well as camels drawn to the scent of water.
Intrepid Travel is celebrating with a new, four-day adventure, with river cruises, visits to aboriginal sites and more.