By Keith Edwards
Staring Zen-like at a muskrat (I think his name was Elon) foraging in a local park sparked two thoughts. First, how the natural world has anchored my sanity in this Covid-restricted world. And secondly, how desperately ready I am to start travelling again, but perhaps not too far.
The award-winning Manoir Hovey near Sherbrooke Quebec is likely going to be one of my first stops. Not just because of its lakefront five-star accommodations, but because, for decades, it has embraced and celebrated its life affirming terroir, in all its forms. This summer, I’m ready to try Hovey’s Bee experience. Jérôme Dubois, their sommelier and resident apiarist will be my host. Promising a hands-on experience once I’m safely suited up, Dubois will host a honey tasting straight from the honeycomb.
Dubois is, after all, at the top of his game at the hives and what better way to engage guests in something a little out of the ordinary—a “session with the bees” that ends with a gourmet meal?
After all, as a Relais & Châteaux property, what happens at the Manoir Hovey dining room is a central pillar of the guest experience. Chef Alexandre Vachon serves up sustainable salmon alongside locally-sourced soy blended with a delicate floral raw honey courtesy of his kitchen mate, Dubois.
Honey mayonnaise? Honey vinegar? Honey cake? I start to salivate as Dubois enthuses over the sweet success of his culinary tinkering. But this is nothing new. Chef Vachon is known for harvesting from his on-property garden, sourcing local cheese, and foraging on their 30-acre grounds for wild herbs.
“I want guests have a taste of the region, a sense of place and to appreciate biodiversity,” Chef tells me as he explains his specialties. I was sold at honey cake. Not to be outdone, Jérôme jumps in to tell me he has some wonderful Quebec biodynamic white wines he’s planning to share as well.
As I write, I can’t help but see myself lounging in an Algonquin chair in the Manoir’s sun dappled English garden. I’m gazing over Lake Massawippi, sipping wine and hearing the distant buzz of honeybees.