My wife and I had the opportunity to spend some time in France this past March, and a happy memory of that experience was the opportunity to experience fine dining at reasonable prices - fresh food prepared in amazing ways in beautiful settings. Who would have thought that we could have the same experience in Marmora, Ontario, an historic town half way between Toronto and Ottawa on Highway 7, about 40 km north of Belleville. Indeed we did, this past Sunday, on the eve of my wife's birthday. The Marmora Inn is a beautiful century house that is a bed and breakfast operated with great love and passion by Rui and Kathy. My usual inclination is toward fish, but here I decided to try the quail appetizer and then the breast of duck. My wife chose the cheese and philo appetizer and pork tenderloin. We were intoxicated by the food and its seductive presentation. It came in ample amounts, and more importantly it was cooked and flavoured to perfection. Quail was new to me, but wonderfully grilled and seasoned. The duck resolved any previous apprehensions I might have had about it being fatty – the breast was succulent and prepared in a wonderful marinade, with the meat sliced to let the flavours reach inside. We had a bottle of Carm 2010, which Rui imports directly from Portugal, it turns out. At less than $40 it was excellent value. To top off our dinner – did I mention that you can get a prix fixe four-course meal for $38? – we had dessert. My wife had poached pears in a port wine sauce. I had the carrot cake, which is Rui’s daughter’s secret recipe. I usually wouldn’t eat so much at a meal, but this was a special occasion, and the evening was comfortably unhurried. There was always something at the table to nibble at, from olives and bread all the way, with complementary carbonated mineral water. In truth, in France, there are many places as good as the Marmora Inn, few that are better. In Eastern Ontario, you would have to travel a fair way to find Marmora Inn’s match. It simply is excellent, on all fronts: quality, value, ambiance, and hospitality.
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