Friday, 11 July 2014

Sutton’s Diamond in the Rustic

Auberge des Appalaches

by Nancy Snipper

Auberges des Appalaches is far away from Ireland – the country where the owners of this darling inn met: John Kostuik and Patricia Gérard. He was head chef for twelve years of a prestigious inn: Rathsallagh House in County Wicklow, and she was head of housekeeping.  In 2008, tall John from Toronto and petite Patricia from La Bresse married in her home town in France. Two years later, they bid adieu to the emerald isle, and opened up their own inn in yet another strikingly green region – Sutton, in Quebec’s Eastern Townships.

 Is it any wonder they painted the inn’s pine and stucco façade in green! 

But, this down-to-earth duo not only gave their Alpine-style auberge a new external face, which included putting in a swimming pool and a wrap-around red cedar deck for relaxing within the 2-acre verdant vista  of mature trees and a gorgeous garden.  

 They also refurbished the interior with country charm. They knew Appalaches’ 1970s décor was longing for a loving make-over, and they responded whole-heartedly to their “baby”– as Patricia calls it.  

Uniquely crafted art pieces that feature the whimsy and talent of local artisans and painters blend in with the charming provincial style furniture and vintage objets d’art. Many come from John’s family.


                              Authentic and homey warmth fills the place.

   Feeling at home   

Eleven cozy rooms grace the premises – nine upstairs and two spacious ones downstairs, due to a sensible renovation that turned four rooms into two. I stayed in the luxurious Queen Patio room that had its own walkout. It offered a table and chairs for me to enjoy the expansive back view of the grounds, birdsong and stunning sunsets.  This natural cocoon became up close and personal to me because of the room’s sleek sliding glass doors. White and natural pine spilled throughout the room blending the rich brown and charcoal colored wood. 

All beds offer a highly supportive Serta mattress.

There are no TVs in rooms; I didn’t miss mine. I fell asleep shortly after my head hit the super comfy pillow. Just another way for you to feel calm during our stay. Wi-Fi is here, so you can stay connected – if you want. My gleaming white marble bathroom with its sumptuously thick towels, double sinks and exquisite shower with accessories made me feel like royalty.


Folks from near and far flock to this rustic gem year-round for ...

 summer fun

 foliage festivities

 winter skiing
As well, from October 18th to November 22nd, Auberge plays host to Sutton en Blues. Musicians stay here, and at night, fans filter into the inn to hear the great music performed by some of Canada's best blues artists.
The Swiss National Day at Mount Sutton, August 2, attracts many, and its Federation members stay at Auberge des Appalaches.  

Many come just for the food, as Auberge des Appalaches is one of Sutton’s few inns with a world-class restaurant.It’s manned by John – a great guy who just happens to be one of the region’s most prized chefs. He spent almost seven years in Toronto with his mentor – the stellar chef Michael Potters, at Winston's Rosewater, Left Bank, not to mention his experience as top chef in high-end restaurants in England and France. 

The menu has his signature: freshness and irresistible taste 
                                   with a presentation to  match.

At 5:30 a.m, John is often puttering around Appalaches’ garden, 
picking out herbs that will help him accomplish awesome results. 

This freshness is enhanced by John’s personal dedication to utilize the cornucopia of local produce from the area. John is designated a Chef Créateur; not surprisingly, Auberge des Appalaches is on the gourmet circuit route – a popular Townships’ event. 
 John’s genius lies in his ability to use fresh fruit and herbs to create sweet and savory flavors.  This was immediately evident during my first dinner of  three.
The halibut dish with grapefruit pieces added citrus sweetness as well as exciting contrast to the accompanying baby bok choy in parsley and arugula.

 I was both stunned and amused to hear this humble chef confess that his favorite dish to cook is fish: “It’s so delicate and easy to screw up that I love the challenge of cooking it.” 

I marveled at his wonderful entrées.  Only a cuisine wizard can create a crispy perfectly circular covering that turns the mundane into a gourmet goodie that offers a hidden delicate surprise: a poached egg! This delectable number, fittingly called, Crispy Egg,  was a first for me, and I wanted another one.   
Likewise, the salmon starter with fennel and arugula put my taste buds in greed mode, so I was elated when the main dish arrived – incomparable cannelloni. He made the pasta himself. Inside, a divine combination of soft local goat cheese from Caitya du Caprice Caprin, tiny bits of red peppers, onion and spinach seduced my taste buds. Arugula added punch to the sliver thin pieces of parmesan cheese resting under the three huge cannelloni. 

The wine paired with this winner was the 2012 Rose: Val Caudalies – Domaine Brésée – Vignoble de l’Orpailleur from Quebec. 

The rack of lamb offered a rapturous finale to my stay here. Wow! So tender, the stand-out lamb, topped with silky zucchini slices of immeasurably superb seasoning,  rose like a boastful beacon above a surrounding potato puree from which peeked out a thin moat of local honey suckle (camerise in French). The layered look has arrived in food!    The combination coalesced to form subtle flavor heaven.  The knock-out meal was a perfect match to the starter: grilled shrimp with garden coriander. John revealed that 20 ingredients made up the Thai salad in which the huge savory shrimp sat.  I had already tasted his lovely lovage soup, but by the time I finished the meal, I was ready to kidnap the cook!
There is a kind of magic in his cooking; nothing is saturated in sauce, gooey cream or grease. No matter the dish, each one had its own subtle flare. 

Including desserts

For breakfast, the same holds true:  from blueberry pancakes to smashing omelets - they are edible prologues of pleasure for starting your day. 

Working off calories comes easily outside Auberge des Appalaches. Mont Sutton’s Nature Preserve Park offers a matrix of 52-kilometre trails that traverse this magnificent mountain. 

Trails are terrifically marked. Some provide panoramic views.

Others lead to little lakes nestling in the mountain’s nether regions.
I hiked up to Spruce Lake whose trail started 520 meters up the mountain. The hour-long hike was well worth the view.

                   Connecting routes eventually lead to other Eastern Township areas.

 I drove to this starting point, but the day before, I took the lower climb whose point of origin was just off Réal Road. I hiked up alongside a rushing stream and ended up at Pecan Falls. 

At the end of this climb, the entrance kiosk was located where one pays a small fee. There, you'll be greeted by Micheline whose warm manner and encouragement helps you start your climb. Thanks to her and the map, I didn't get lost. 
 Thanks to Patricia, I was told me where to drive to get to the park's kiosk; she patiently provided accurate directions. Patricia is helpful and able to multi-task with class and proficiency.  Her astuteness reflects the professional training she received at one of France’s best hotellerie institutes: Cours hôtelier de Besançon.
Patricia is not only famous for her help inside the inn, her sparkling smile, genuine interest in you and impeccable ability to help you navigate outside her Appalaches inn are so appreciated. Her knowledge is vital to enjoying the Eastern Township experience.  
With this in mind, she revealed a fantastic new Sutton3 (cubed) event. It consists of a 3-day/3-night package that not only includes Auberge des Appalaches’ breakfasts and a dinner, but also an exciting variety of Sutton-and-beyond outstanding experiences. The choices appeal to sporty types and those who enjoy the finer pleasures of life: food and wine.  
As a bike-it-hike-it-bite-it-sip-it affair, you have a choice of five cycling routes with food and wine tastings on the way. Plus, if cycling is not your thing, there are hiking excursions and wineries you can visit. The program offers you instant access to price reductions on 14 gourmet wine and food products in the Agroalimentaire part of Sutton3. The information on this 3-day/3-night outdoor pleasure activity program – organized in conjunction with the Tourist Office of Sutton is available at the inn.  
Here's another perk: for less than $20, Patricia will hand you a wine route transport, from Kava Tours, where you can have 4 to 6 wine tastings at each one.  Can you believe it, but the price includes tastings for two people! The six wineries are all within 20 minutes from the Auberge. There are two different area passports which feature three wineries in each.  The passport also includes all kinds of price reductions on your favorites.
For more information, call: 1 (877) 533-5799
or email them at: