This most populous province of Canada produces the lion’s share of the country’s wines, as well as a large percentage of fruits, vegetables, cheeses, sweet water fish, and processed meats.
Some of the cheeses and processed meats can compete with the best anywhere, as do the wines.
The only problem is finding these products and this requires research. Most are produced in limited quantities, and distributed in Toronto, and locally. Because of the high labour cost and limited quantities, prices tend to be somewhat higher than mass-market ingredients.
Pingue’s is a company that has become synonymous with outstanding prosciutto and sausages. Mario Pingue transforms naturally raised pork (often Berkshire) into elegant slivers of luscious cured ham that has a dark pink colour.
First he opened a restaurant trying to take advantage of the tourist traffic in Niagara and produced prosciutto on the side. When one local and famous chef tasted it, he decided, on the spot, to feature it in his famous high-end restaurant.
Eventually Michael Bonacini, part owner of Oliver and Bonacini restaurants heard about Pingue ham and invited Mario to present his prosciutto to his mostly European-trained cooks. All were suitably impressed with the taste and texture. Oliver and Bonacini’s several restaurants feature Pingue prosciutto.
All Pingue processed pigs are pasture-raised, antibiotic and hormone free, fed 100 per cent vegetable feed and the product is without nitrates or nitrites. Only salt is used for curing. Now Pingue produces tasty pancetta, capicolla, and guanciale, and of late bresaola from beef.
Monforte dairy in Stratford produces outstanding cheeses, as does Fifth Town Artisan Cheese in Picton.
Ontario also produces farmed rainbow trout using the cold water of pristine rivers.
Aquaculture has been traced back 3500 years to China. Ontario’s aquaculture goes back one century, but uses modern technology. The industry is heavily regulated and closely scrutinized to ensure safe foods.
Maple syrup, a unique product of cold regions, is also a staple used in the production of province’s much-admired pancakes.
Recently, a few enterprising individuals started raising wagyu beef, using well-established Japanese techniques. of Ontario-raised wagyu-style beef is an absolute delicacy, only available in high-end Toronto butcher shops, and available to Japanese restaurants catering wealthy clientele.
It would be remiss not to mention Ontario grown asparagus, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, tomatoes, shiitake and oyster mushrooms.
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