Retreat yourself to our Nova Scotia mountaintop home with an ocean view, featuring farm-to-table dinners and a cozy but modern farmstay on the Bay of Fundy. This is truly, a culinary dream project for Studio East owners Chef Ray Bear & Saronn Pov.
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your seat & check out @kisikridge on Facebook & Instagram.
It starts with a lovely day trip from Halifax through the Annapolis Valley, past green fields and cute towns. If you like, stop to pick strawberries under the sun or peruse a local farmers or craft market. Take exit 18 out of Middleton and start the ascent up the mountain road. Around every turn a new sight; cows grazing, bales of hay. As you get higher, you can see the rolling hills and farmland. You are in the country now.
At the end of the road, you take a right onto dirt road. Is this the right place? Are you going the wrong way? A feeling of uncertainty in this unfamiliar territory, surrounded by trees and dirt, until you see the white farmhouse with trees and flowers waving in the breeze, inviting you to stop. The dirt crunches under your feet as you make your way up the driveway. A friendly black cat falls at your feet, meowing for a belly rub.
The air here is different, clear, brisk. Breathing in deep, your sense of unease fades to comfort as you clear the side of the house and are stopped in your tracks by the view. The field goes as far as your eye can see, tracking trees and grass and cows and pigs and farm sheds. The dogs bark their hello, the birds chirp. As your gaze moves down past the field, you see blue and it dawns on you, that’s the ocean waves glittering under the clear blue sky.
You have arrived at Kisik Ridge Estates.
Ray and Saronn bought the farm a little over a year ago, and have worked tirelessly at renovating it. It’s not yet finished, but that is part of the charm. They don’t want to wait to invite guests until everything is perfect, life is about the journey, and so is this retreat.
They came up with the idea for an intimate dinner retreat because they are excited about what they are doing, and they want to share it.
The beauty of it is the freedom of the Ridge. And not just for the roaming pigs, or the wildlife lurking in the treeline, but for the artistic passions of the chefs who live here.
This is not Studio East, this is a totally different experience.
These dinners allow creative licence for the chef. This is about doing whatever they want, experimenting and having fun and using the freshest ingredients the way they are meant to be used, without compromise. Don’t you want to come and discover what they have created just for you?
These retreats are a way for Chef Ray Bear & Saronn Pov to deeply connect with their passions. Each dinner is inspired by fresh local food, and prepared the way food was meant to be enjoyed. They love to collaborate with the local farmers and producers. During their very first dinner retreat, one of their neighbours brought fresh butter from her cows that she had made that day and the guests loved it.
They have both always wanted to work closely with the land. Saronn has wanted a farm since she was a kid growing up in the lush backcountry of Thailand. Ray is an artist, on the plate and off, and he too has long wanted a farm of his own. This is a new beginning for them, to evolve their art and passion of food and explore the connection of food and land and sea.
They bought the land in an area that used to be thriving with apple orchards and farms, but has been rather forgotten over the recent past.
Kisik Ridge is really being accepted into this community, the neighbouring farmers and local craftsmen are excited about fresh faces and new growth in a place that has been sleeping for so long.
The Ridge aims to be sustainable, mindful and respectful to the land. Using the values of permaculture, they use their animal’s own inclinations to work and restore the land. The goal is to inspire new life and growth in this beautiful country. And to be inspired to create new and beautiful dishes as works of art.
Life is a journey. It’s a cliche because it’s true. The farm won’t be finished in a year. The dinners aren’t supposed to be perfect. We will experience it while it’s still being born. If they waited to invite people until everything was finished, it would be years away. But that is part of the fun and excitement, we get to go see the beginning stages, the hope, the dream, and we get to watch as it grows and evolves from dream into reality.
And they don’t want to do it alone! Ray & Saronn want to attract others who will revive the community, help make it thrive again. Food is the universal language, and food creates community. There is so much potential here, it just needs a push!
They want to attract like-minded people and nurture the best of the best. As anyone who has worked in it knows, the food industry can be a hard one to live in. Ray has always tried to nurture talent, but it is so hard to do it on a large scale. You can only really make a difference individually, one-on-one. It can be extremely rewarding and fulfilling.
That’s why these dinners are so important, it’s a way to connect with guests and share their vision, and attract those with the same spirit.
Ray and Saronn want to open their doors to like-minded people, who crave adventure and want to experience dining at its finest – but in a really casual and relaxed environment. Wear whatever you want! You will be walking through the fields and saying hi to the pigs, so you might want to wear comfy shoes – boots are even better!
The evening will likely begin with the guests gathered outside on the back deck, taking in their first impressions; enchanted by the warm sun shining through the clouds, so close sometimes you feel like you may be able to reach out and touch one. There will be talk of the view as guests realize what they are seeing at the horizon is actually the ocean. It’s hard to tell where the sky ends and the water begins.
Perhaps Ray will bring out a dove and a lucky guest will get to toss it into the air as everyone watches it fly overhead, eventually back to its coop.
First will be an amuse-bouche to open the palate, and then everybody takes their seat at the intimate communal table, set for 12.
Then follows multiple courses: a few starters, then a break with a cleanse, perhaps a sorbet to cleanse the palate before the main courses.
Everything has been calculated, every garnish a weighted decision, every course prepared to deliver a smooth transition of flavours, paired perfectly with Nova Scotia wines. To finish, dessert and coffee.
The menu will constantly change with seasonal fruits and veggies. Ray and Saronn will take turns creating the dishes, pulling from different loves and interests. One week it may be the finest dining. The next you might be reminded of a spa retreat.
You never know what exactly you are going to experience, but it will be with the freshest ingredients at their peak, the way they were meant to be enjoyed.
The wild watercress that grows so abundantly at the farm will often feature in different ways. Local collaborators like the Cow Girl and her velvety fresh butter will be included in the menu. You don’t know what you are going to get, but you can be sure it will be delicious, fine-dining amidst the trees and pigs and wildflowers.
Truly, a neat experience. Every decision has been tailored, and the guests enjoy it all in this beautiful relaxed atmosphere.
Once everyone is fed and watered, the option to stay the night is available as well. Perhaps everyone will gather at the firepit and tell stories. Or lounge in reclining patio chairs and gaze up at the stars.
Ray & Saronn have worked hard to create a comfortable farmstay for anyone who wishes to stay. There are a number of rooms and suites, each with their own quirks and comforts.
The Destiny Suite is fully furnished with its own entrance to the back deck and a big bay window so you can sit and sip your coffee as the sun rises over the treeline. A pair of binoculars is a nice touch – on a clear day you can see right over the Bay of Fundy to New Brunswick!
The modern but cozy suite is fully equipped with an open-concept bar & living room, mini-fridge and tv. Late at night you will want to curl upon the couch with cozy blankets and watch tv or peruse a book before retiring to the queen-sized bed in the next room. It will be the best sleep you have had in a long time, breathing in the fresh mountain air while tucked in wonderfully soft sheets – you will be asleep before your head even hits the pillow!
It’s a magical place. Sometimes the clouds are so low to the ground, enveloping the place in misty fog, leaving an eerie creepy feeling and you can’t see more than a few hundred yards in front of you.
Other times, the sun shines so brightly overhead and it’s hard to tell which is the prettier shade of blue, the sky or the ocean?
If you are lucky enough to take the full tour of the 212-acre farm (which is even larger in person than it sounds!), you can walk down to the rocky beach and then up to the highest field above the farmhouse, where you are up so high and can see so far, it feels like you are on the edge of the Earth, with green grass under your feet and blue all around, can you see the curve of the Earth? It seems impossible but here you are, at the top of the world. Intoxicating.
Is it a dream?
As you drive back into the city, the rush and noise seems louder and harsher than before, breaking you out of the mythical trance you didn’t realize you had fallen under, but you are awake and refreshed.
The word “Kisik” has a meaning in cree: “Oxygen”, “Spirit.”
The Ridge really does have a spirit of its own.
Kisik Ridge Retreats are truly, an experience for all the senses, a retreat for the tastebuds and for the soul.
To book your spot at the table, email email@example.com. We are now booking for August and into the fall, and with the changing season comes harvest veggies and the theme “a sense of renewal.”