Niagara, located in the southwestern corner of Ontario on the shores of the eponymous lake is the backbone of the tender fruit industry and artisanal cheese producers.
Two world-famous falls attract millions of tourists and honeymooners whose accommodation and food requirements are superbly met, often surpassed.
When ti comes to the creation of outstanding cuisine, fresh, high-quality ingredients are essential, and Niagara has them aplenty. Moderate winters, cool springs, and the protection from strong winds, by the Niagara Escarpment result in ideal growing conditions.
These, in turn allow growing bountiful stone fruits, lush vineyards, and a rich array of colorful produce.
The tender fruit industry in Niagara, a k a as the “banana belt” is located along the south shoreline of Lake Ontario. The history of tender fruit dates back to 1790’s when cherries and peaches were harvested at the mouth of the Niagara River.
Today, Niagara’s fruit industry produces 90 percent of Ontario’s, and 75 percent of fruit in Niagara comes from the sale of apricots, cherries (sweet or sour), nectarines, peaches, pears and plums.
Niagara and other parts of southern Ontario grow appreciable quantities of garlic, greenhouse cucumbers and peppers, leeks, mushrooms, onions, parsnips, peppers, potatoes, rutabaga, sprouts and winter squash.
Ontario as well-established pork, lamb, poultry and beef industries, as well an emerging game and fowl trade.
Ontario’s dairy farmers produce significant quantities of milk to supply an old and well-established cheddar- and cream cheese industry to satisfy the needs of 12 million people.
This province’s cheese production, particularly cheddar and other hard cheeses, enjoy an excellent reputation both in Canada and abroad.
A good portion of Ontario cheese is exported to the U S A and the U K. All these primary ingredients supply a number of gourmet restaurants in southern Ontario, a k a Golden Horseshoe.
In the past two decades, several wineries opened restaurants to showcase their wines and the gastronomic ability of home-trained chefs.
Here are some of them and all are bound to titillate your palate. You are likely to enjoy their tasty food, but also their attentive service, charming surroundings and many unique wines available only at the winery. Many Torontonians take advantage of their superb dishes and wines especially n weekends, Retired citizens who appreciate fine food; pleasant décor, attentive service and wines visit them during the week.
Vineland Estates restaurant under the guidance of Marc Picone is well known for its imaginative menu and food presentation. The restaurant offers an incomparable vista of lake Ontario and Toronto’s skyline in the background on clear days. The wine lists consist mainly of the winery’s excellent Rieslings and red wines.
Peller Estates has a short history, but a well-deserved fine food reputation. Chef Jason Rosso features mainly seasonal fresh produce and employs classic cooking techniques. Judging from the busy dining room, the clientele appreciates his culinary creations in a pleasant, and airy setting. The service is smooth and professional. Wines offered are among the best Ontario offers.
Hillebrand Estates Vineyard Café was one of the first to open, mostly to showcase its wines. Here, Tony de Luca created an eclectic menu to please the most discriminating palates. The restaurant overlooking Hillebrand’s vineyards is large, airy, and bright with large, well-spaced tables. Chef de Luca features local produce and cheeses whenever they are available.
On the Twenty is the name of the restaurant operated by the Cave Spring Cellars in Jordan. Roberto Fracchioni is devoted to local produce and artisanal cheeses. His food offerings are solid and balanced between protein, vegetables and sauces. Fracchioni’s food presentation is imaginative and aesthetically pleasing without being avant-garde and excessive. On the Twenty’s wine list consists mainly of the products of the award winning winery.
Peninsula Ridge Estates’ restaurant, Peninsula Ridge, is housed in a century-old Victorian home, overlooking the neat vineyards of the vinery.
Chef Raymond Poitras features local produce to the extent possible, but also uses whatever fine quality he can get. The menu is well balanced with classic offerings and modern dishes.
Visitors will be pleasantly surprised with the ambience, fine food, flawless service, and wine offerings this establishment.
Patronizing winery restaurants with business associates, family and friends allows to experience foods Toronto’s restaurants seldom offer, but more importantly; you can sample Ontario wines which you can only get at the winery.
There is no better way to entertain than visiting any of the above restaurants, some of which offer fun-filled music and other spectacle-studded programmes on weekends.
|Writer – Hrayr Berberoglu – E-mail – Read his books?
Professor B offers seminars to companies and interested parties on any category of wine, chocolates, chocolates and wine, olive oils, vinegars and dressings, at a reasonable cost.