There really are some things in life worth repeating, and one of them is a meal at Ralph’s cabin. About a week ago we received a telephone call from Ralph inviting us to join him once again this year for a late summer luncheon at his cabin on the Indian River in the Township of Ramsay. As it turns out, the day was perfect from start to finish, complemented by invigorating weather, with clear blue skies and a fresh breeze reminiscent of the autumnal weather that is coming.
To begin, the cabin is a real cabin, made of cedar logs, built I believe in the 1920's. It consists of three rooms; viz., a very compact kitchen ("...with everything I have at home", assures Ralph), a middle sitting room with fireplace (actually two, one electric, the other wood burning), two couches (which can be made into beds, though Ralph says he has never stayed overnight) and several tables and chairs, and a end screened dining area overlooking the rushing waterfalls of the Indian River below. The cabin is virtually invisible from the main road, since one must descend from the road along a gravel drive which effectively leads one to a canyon of sorts, where the cabin and surrounding acreage are neatly tucked away from view by the outside world. One feels positively remote, though we were but a few miles from Almonte (and Ralph said with the traffic lights synchronized cooperatively, he can get from his house in Carleton Place to the cabin in about 15 minutes). A visitor once remarked to Ralph that the location of the cabin reminded her of a place she and her husband had visited in the Rocky Mountains years ago, due no doubt to the mounting stone wall face across the narrow River gorge. Ralph told us that in the Spring, the water rushes so furiously that one must shout to be heard. The cabin enjoys the luxury of many windows, which not only contribute to the constant flow of air, but enable one to see down the winding River. The view is especially delightful from the dining area, where of course we sat today to enjoy our delicious luncheon.
I can’t possibly do justice to what Ralph prepared for us to eat (he is notoriously an excellent cook). Everything was perfectly orchestrated, nothing overbearing for a mid-day meal. We started with a homemade soup and rolls (and lots of butter, too). Then followed a mushroom soufflé (you see, already I’ve forgotten the more exotic Italian name for it) with scallops wrapped in prosciutto (and served with a Balsamic vinegar reduction). There were two homemade sauces (both sinful) to complement the soufflé. The crowning jewel was Poor Man’s Pudding, which Ralph says was one of his late mother’s recipes and likely a creature of the Depression. As I jokingly remarked to Ralph, "How ever do you make this without sugar!". More cause for repentance, but like any satisfying indulgence, worth the penalty!
Our conversation rolled along effortlessly, nicely maintaining a pace and rhythm which is peculiar to people who are enjoying one another’s company, having lots of interjections, supplements, and "where was I goings". There was as well the usual bit of sniping, but nothing horribly malicious, just enough to keep the pot boiling.
After it was all over, we sat happily listening to the water and the buzzing bees, sipping aromatic tea from proper tea cups. And, yes, we raised a toast to the moose head hanging on the wall!