Go on a culinary expedition this summer.
Taste Trails, self-guided expeditions into the heart of a region’s food and drink culture, are a great way to sample the flavours of the province. Here are some culinary adventures you can go on this season.
Stratford Chocolate Trail
Does anything sound better than a chocolate trail? This tour introduces you to some of Stratford’s finest confectioners and bakers. For $30, you get a pass that enables you to sample a variety of decadent treats and meet the people who handcraft these delectables. A Chocolate Trail pass can be purchased in person at the Stratford Tourism office; it includes vouchers entitling you to your choice of six stops on the self-guided tour. The trail is offered year-round. Black Angus Bakery and Catering in Stratford has 21 varieties of its signature shortbread, from traditional to Skor bits, orange cranberry, cherry almond and chocolate-dipped coffee. Chocolate Barr’s Candies has 12 flavours of handmade truffles, including honey and black pepper, lavender, cherry liqueur and hazelnut truffle. Rheo Thompson Candies, a local shop that’s been in the candy-making business for 40 years, has 100 different kinds of chocolaty treats, including a decadent dark-chocolate-and-mint smoothie.
Savour Stratford Bacon & Ale Trail
Stratford sits in the heart of Ontario’s largest pork-producing region. The area is home to a host of renowned craft brewers, too, such as Shakespeare Brewing Company, with small-batch seasonal artisanal beers, and Black Swan Brewing Co., owned and operated by two Stratford entrepreneurs whose motto is “drink better beer.” The self-guided Bacon & Ale Trail ($30, passes available online) includes five stops at restaurants and retail locations offering bacon-and-ale-inspired treats, plus opportunities to visit with some of the Stratford area’s culinary stars. The tour is available year-round. Explore the world of craft micro-brewing at Black Swan’s taproom, with a mini tasting flight of four seasonal craft beers, and take home a growler or two to share with friends. Then stop in at Mercer Beer Hall + Kitchen + Hotel for a comparison tasting of two styles of artisan bacon paired with a six-ounce glass of local craft beer.
Blue Mountain Apple Pie Trail
Apple pie is only the beginning on this culinary adventure. South Georgian Bay has a rich apple-growing history, and this self-guided tour celebrates that past while reinterpreting the apple for the 21st century. There is so much to see and do on this tour, with 40 trail stops to explore, it’s recommended visitors make a two-day plan out of it. You’ll want to visit Grandma Lambe’s, and dig in to one of their famous pies, handmade in-house from local orchard apples and a secret family recipe that’s been handed down through generations. After getting your pie on, head to Thornbury Village Cidery, which crafts its ciders amid 7,500 acres of orchards in the heart of apple country.
Prince Edward County Taste Trail
Prince Edward County is Ontario’s gastronomic capital, and the area lives and breathes the artisanal way of life. Stops on this self-guided trail include Agrarian Market, which has live music on Friday and Saturday evenings and a large patio with lounge seating. Ice cream lovers will want to head to Slickers, whose all-natural artisan ice cream is handmade daily in small batches using fresh local ingredients, such as rich cream, cherries, raspberries, strawberries, pumpkins and grapes. Fifth Town Artisan Cheese – whose family has roots in the cheese-making business that go back to Parma, Italy – will satisfy your cheese desires with fresh chèvre and rind bries made from locally sourced fresh goat and water-buffalo milk.
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