Two large pizza pies oozing with melted cheese and loaded with toppings are hungrily eyed by diners.
But it's no ordinary pizza party. The women seated at the linen-draped picnic-table are about to tuck into pies loaded with vegetables they just picked at a vegetable farm down the road.
Talk about fresh food.
The late-afternoon outdoor garden party is the well-earned reward for work in the field and kitchen.
This is Friends and Lovers, a new two-day retreat at Calder House Bed and Breakfast, located just east of Steinbach in southeastern Manitoba.
The adventure taps into a growing trend-cuisine-focused travelling that connect people with local foods from the dirt up.
Calder House B & B owners Carole Tetreault and Grant Milliner partnered with nearby farmers Kim Shukla and her husband Richard Whitehead of Stonelane Orchard to create a hands-on, yet relaxing retreat for travellers.
Armed with a ‘shopping list,' guests grab baskets and pick ingredients at Stonelane Orchard. Shukla leads her charges through the fields, greenhouse and orchard, teaching the ins and outs of Manitoba agriculture along the way.
"It sounds funny but we really like to talk about vegetables because it really broadens people's horizons," says Shukla. "It's really about getting back to the land and knowing where your food comes from."
That food includes a plethora of vegetables including peas and peppers, beans basil and leafy greens, among many other garden-fresh eats.
"People really want to connect with their food," says Shukla. "And if they can pick their own lettuce and eat it that night they get really excited."
That's where husband-and-wife team Tetreault and Milliner come in. Back at Calder House, a circa 1922 farm-house, the duo enlists their vegetable-laden guests to help make dinner using the produce and herbs harvested from Stoneland Orchard. Tetreault leads the kitchen party, teaching any neophytes how to cook and overseeing the action.
Dinner is served on the garden patio (or inside the large dining room if the weather doesn't cooperate). After reaping the delicious rewards of their garden-fresh feast, Tetreault, a massage therapist and reiki practitioner, can work out the kinks in the upstairs treatment room.
The two-day package is a true food-lovers escape with the added bonus of a peaceful retreat from the buzz of modern life,, says Tetreault.
"I hope (guests) find some peace, reconnect with themselves and just be, be present."
Friends and Lovers runs mid-July through September. Get dirt under your fingers and eat what you reap. For information visit Calder House B & B's website.
Here are some other Manitoba food adventures worth their salt:
Moon Gate Bed and Breakfast is your home away from home during Foraging and Fast Waters, a culinary escape that takes guests on land and water. Paddle a canoe down the meandering Whitemouth River in eastern Manitoba with a guide pointing the way. On land, forage for wild edibles like berries or cultivated tomatoes to transform into preserves and jams back at the B & B with the help of a local chef and restaurateur. For more information about Foraging and Fast Waters visit Moon Gate B & B's website.
Learn how they bake on the farm during Baking 101 at Thistle Lane Guesthouse Bed & Breakfast in Grunthal, Manitoba, southeast of Winnipeg. Over two days, learn how to make cheesecake, slices, cinnamon buns and pizza using farm-fresh ingredients and Manitoba-harvested ingredients. Settle into your loft bedroom inside this transformed farm house for a sound sleep in the countryside. To discover your inner pastry chef click here.