Only two decades ago, one was hard pressed to find a restaurant or hotel dining room outside of Toronto where to eat well.
Since then, a few things have changed for the better. Young people interested in cooking received a good education from dedicated teachers proud of their profession. They taught technique, discipline and organization, and stressed the importance of fresh ingredients, quality over quantity, and use of local produce to the extent possible. They knew first hand that only the best and freshest ingredients in the hands of caring cooks can yield tasty food.
The fruits of these dedicated individuals and their interest of young, well-trained cooks promoted another trend – farmers willing to grow foods never before attempted. Some decided to grow organic foods exclusively, others green asparagus, red peppers, heirloom tomatoes, a bevy of apple varieties just to name a few.
Nowadays menus read differently. It is not tomatoes, but heirloom… tomatoes grown in…, or Pelham Farm quails, Tom’s prosciutto from… Gourmets can now combine a leisurely Saturday or Sunday or a weekend winery visits with culinary experiences.
Just get in your car and drive for two hours. You will reach Hillenbrand Estate Winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake on Highway 55. Visit the winery (They offer guided tours), taste a few of the winery’s top-end wines, and then proceed to their restaurant that serves delicious foods under the direction of Tony de Luca, a young talented, and imaginative chef from Toronto. After a leisurely lunch, you can visit a few wineries on the Niagara Parkway. Start with Lailey, then visit Inniskillin, continue with Marynissen and conclude with Reif. All are close and require only a few minutes of drive.
Then return to Niagara-on-the-Lake to the Peller Estate Winery’s fine dining room. You can taste their fine wines before proceeding to the restaurant. Here the setting is lavish, service refined and knowledgeable. Servers are polished enough to suggest excellent wines within your budget range.
Another day you can start visiting the Peninsula Ridge Winery, have lunch in their dining room. Then proceed to the following wineries: Thirty Bench, Angel’s Gate and Lakeview.
Dinner at the On the Twenty Restaurant in the town of Jordan will convince you about the culinary talent and availability of fine ingredients in the region. Of course, the Cave Spring Cellars winery next door should not be missed. Try their chardonnay reserve, chardonnay musque, and rieslings. You be the judge!
Alternately you can visit the Vineland Estate Winery. It is famous for its rieslings, but also for its cabernet franc and icewines.
The restaurant on the premises features an imaginative menu and attentive service. The wines are well chosen to complement the dishes.
The Millcroft Inn in Alton is famous for its specialties, as is the Little Inn of Bayfield on the shores of Lake Huron. Both offer fine accommodation and food fit for a carefree weekend.
Langdon Hall Country House and Spa in Cambridge attracts many gourmets from Toronto, London and upper New York State.
If you take 401 East and then highway 33, you arrive in Picton, Prince Edward County, a beautiful region on the Bay of Quinte. Many adventurous grape growers were attracted to the area and gourmet restaurants followed shortly after.
The Waring House Inn and Cookery School attracts many young couples eager to learn the basics or intricacies of solid cooking techniques. The Merrill Inn owned and managed by a young, professional couple is definitely worth a visit. The hotel is smoke-free, each room differently decorated, and the food happens to be delicious too.
All of the establishments offer quality Niagara wines, served by knowledgeable and dedicated individuals eager to make your stay or dinner a memorable experience.
For more information www.savourontario.ca
|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.