"Going out on a mushroom-hunting foray with Vaughn," a fellow visitor to Trout Point Lodge says to me at lunch, "is like stepping delicately through a minefield." He gets up from the table--temporarily abandoning his roasted garlic soup, a very hard thing to do--and hops from foot to foot to demonstrate. "You have to pick your way through the mosses and ferns, careful not to step on some precious thing, and Vaughn will swoop in triumphantly with a cluster of cèpes in his hand, or something else only he will recognize."
By Vaughn, he means Vaughn Perret, who opened Trout Point Lodge in Nova Scotia last summer with his partners Charles Leary and Daniel Abel. An extraordinary combination of inn, restaurant, dairy farm, cooking school and wilderness retreat, the lodge sits on 200 acres that are next to a wilderness preserve--which is itself adjacent to Kejimikujik, a huge national park where the stands of old-growth timber are protected from loggers and miners.
"Vaughn's a lawyer, but he should have been a botanist," Leary says, poking his head out of the kitchen. And to prove his point, the two men gather up the guests after lunch and take us for a walk to point out what they're growing on the grounds: an herb garden at the front of the lodge, a blueberry patch and raspberry thatch in the back. We wander out to the lawn that slopes down to the Tusket River, flowing by only a few yards from the lodge. All around are beeches and birches and maples and spruces growing in uncontrolled profusion among streams that are drinking-quality clear. The lodge fits so seamlessly into the landscape that it seems to have always been there. Constructed from giant eastern spruce logs, chiseled granite and sandstone, it was built in the style of the Great Camps erected along the eastern seaboard of North America in the early twentieth century. The 10 guest suites have a similarly haute-rustic style--tables and chairs made of tree branches, deep sofas, handsome stone fireplaces, antique lamps and warm, richly colored rugs and blankets.