Posts Tagged ‘menu’

Andrew Hind

johnstonscranberrymarsh015_edited-1

Ontario’s woods are ablaze in fiery shades throughout October. At the same time as forests are being transformed into a painter’s palette of colour, harvest season is in full swing. It makes for an ideal season to escape and unwind at one of the province’s resorts; wander along country lanes lined with maples turned cherry red, harvest apples by the bushel in orchards strewn with copper-coloured leaves, or simply curl up by a crackling fire-pit to inhale the scent of autumn. October is all about experiencing the natural bounty of Ontario’s magical autumn season.

Perhaps in no place does the bounty of the season—brilliantly-coloured leaves and flavorful crops—come together more perfectly than in Muskoka, home to some of the best leaf-peeping in the province and as well as to our most distinctive autumn crop, the crimson cranberry floating languidly in their flooded fields.

With 11 hectares in cultivation producing 137,000 kilograms of cranberries each year, Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh is the second largest cranberry farm in Ontario, and the only one with its own winery (www.cranberry.ca). It’s also the oldest, established in 1950 by Orville Johnston. His son Murray, along with his wife, Wendy, and their children, continue the much expanded operation today. Thanks in large part to their efforts, the cranberry has become synonymous with autumn in Muskoka, serving as the inspiration for the can’t-miss Bala Cranberry Festival (October 14-16, www.balacranberryfest.com)

“The biggest misconception about cranberries—and there are many—is that they are an aquatic plant. They actually grow in boggy fields. It was discovered that ripe cranberries float in water, and so it became common practice for farmers to flood fields in the autumn to facilitate harvesting,” explains Wendy, one of many fascinating facts you discover during the daily bog-to-bottle tours of the farm (recently named a Signature Canadian Experience).

During October you can watch as berries are harvested from the flooded fields, enjoy wagon rides of the bucolic property, wade in amongst the berries for a priceless photograph, and sample a number of delicious cranberry wines in the Cranberry Café. An autumn day at Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh is a truly memorable experience.

A warming postscript to cranberry cravings and arboreal amblings can be found at a number of nearby resorts, including Sherwood Inn (www.sherwoodinn.ca), a cosy yet elegant hotel on Lake Joseph just a short drive east. When you arrive at Sherwood Inn, you slip into a slower pace of life. You can’t help yourself. True, the property boasts the amenities required of a modern resort—a comfortable spa with staff as soothing as the treatments themselves, a fine dining restaurant with world-class food that manages to be both sophisticated and hearty at the same time—but in general pleasures are simple.

When Charles Draper built the inn in 1939, his vision was of a property more akin to a cottage than a hotel, where personal service and a sense of intimacy would be the main drawing cards. Much has remained the same in the 75-years since. The main lodge is still nestled snuggly among century-old pines. A calming tranquility still prevails. And the tradition of excellence in hospitality that has been a part of Sherwood Inn’s history remains very much alive.

Sherwood Inn is also famed for its fine dining. Executive Chef Everett Bell was born and raised on Lake Huron’s North Shore, and brings distinctive cottage country flavors to the menu. When days shorten and temperatures drop, Bell likes to introduce fresh cranberries into his menu as a nod to the season.cranberry-resorts1_edited-1

“My grandparents had a farm on the North Shore, so I gained an appreciation for fresh, local food. The only experience most people have with cranberries is canned cranberry sauce, but these tart berries can be used for so much more (see recipes below),” Bell explains.

Nature’s bounty, in the form of spectacularly colourful scenery and farm-fresh food, makes October a truly unique season. Make the most of this fleeting season with days spent escaping and unwinding at one of Ontario’s resorts.

Sherwood Inn isn’t the only resort from which to base a weekend spent indulging in cranberries and marveling at brightly-coloured landscapes. Also nearby Johnston’s Cranberry Marsh are Rocky Crest Resort, Shamrock Lodge, Windermere House, Trillium Resort and Spa, Grand Tappattoo Resort, and JW Marriott, the Rosseau.

 And of course, cranberries aren’t the only crops being harvested this time of year. Apples, corn, garlic, pears, pumpkins, squash, and a host of others are available at market stands and pick-your-own farms across the province (to find them, go to http://www.HarvestOntario.com) Wherever you vacation in Ontario, whichever resort calls out to you, there are certain to be an open-to-the-public farm nearby.

 Andrew Hind is a freelance writer specializing in travel and history. He is the author of 19 books, including Muskoka Resorts: Then and Now and most recently Patterson-Kaye: A Celebration. He can be reached at maelstrom@sympatico or followed on Twitter @discoveriesAM.

 

Cranberry Vinaigrette

1 cup cranberry juice

½ cup white balsamic vinegar

½ cup honey

1 cup frozen or fresh cranberries

1.5-2 cups olive oil

1 tbls Dijon mustard

  1.  Add the cranberry juice, vinegar, honey, and whole cranberries together in a medium size pot. Reduce for 20-30 minutes over low heat, or until the whole cranberries begin to break down.
  2. Cool this mixture.
  3. In a medium size mixing bowl, combine the Dijon and cranberry reduction. Whisk briskly, slowly dripping the olive oil in until the desired consistency is reached.
  4. Serve with your favourite salad!

 

Cranberry and White Chocolate Bread Pudding (with Northern Spy Apple and Cranberry Chutney)

½ cup sundried cranberriescranberry-resorts2_edited-1

½ cup white chocolate chips

½ cup beaten whole eggs

½ cup 10% cream

8 slices white bread (or any bread; depends on your preference!)

½ cup white sugar or honey

Pinches of; cinnamon, ground clove, allspice, nutmeg

  1.  Cube the bread. Combine all ingredients, and mix until a rich thick consistency is formed.
  2. Bake at 325 F for approximately 20 minutes or until the chocolate just starts to ooze out and the bread is turning golden.

 

Northern Spy Apple and Cranberry Chutney

1 cup sundried cranberries

2 cups diced northern spy apples

½ cup cranberry wine

1 cup apple juice

1 cinnamon stick, broke in half

Pinch of ground clove

White sugar or honey, to taste

  1.  Combine all ingredients in a medium sized saucepot, and bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Reduce heat to low, and gently simmer, until the apples and cranberries start to break down, and form into chutney.
  3. Taste, and add honey or sugar as desired.
  4. Add atop bread pudding

 

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If you live in Ontario, no doubt you heard about the massive snowstorm that hit Ontario’s cottage country late last week. It dumped well over a metre of snow! Ontario ski resorts are delighted with snow conditions which are expected to be excellent right through the holiday season. 

We corresponded with many ski resorts last month. All are offering competitive rates. Check here for overnight getaways that include skiing or snowboarding at Hockley Valley, Sir Sam’s, Blue Mountain, Hidden Valley, Horseshoe Resort, Mount St. Louis Moonstone and Calabogie Peaks. 

New Year's Eve party at Great Wolf Lodge

New Year's Eve party at Great Wolf Lodge in Niagara Falls

 

Many other Resorts of Ontario members sent us their Christmas and New Year’s Eve plans and we included these on previous posts. On a November 13th post,  you’ll find Christmas ideas and deals. On November 18th, we posted about resort family, food and spa ideas for the holidays. On the November 26th post, we turned our attention to what some of the resorts have planned for New Year’s Eve. And then last week’s post, we added more deals for New Year’s. You can also scroll down and find other resort getaways suitable for a holiday break on earlier posts. The holidays at the resorts include elaborate chef menus for Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year’s Eve dinners, some great food and spa getaways for couples and lots of Christmas and New Year’s deals for families and couples at hotels, lodges, inns and cottage resorts across the province. 

outdoor ice hockey

The Taylor Cup competition – outdoor hockey at Bayview Wildwood Resort

 

Further ski, Christmas and New Year’s getaway deals can be found on the Resorts of Ontario website. Over one hundred resort members are linked to this site. They’re listed alphabetically. There’s also a search engine that will help you narrow down your resort choices by type, by Ontario region, by season and by activity. Click on winter, for example, and you’ll see you get more options to further narrow your search. Even pet owners can check which resorts are pet-friendly. A monthly resort newsletter is also on the site and it lists package deals too. To view or to sign up for it, check here

Safe and happy holidays everyone! 

small plane on skis at Elmhirst Resort, Ontario

Pontoons get changed for skis in winter at Elmhirst Resort

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We’ve got more New Year’s Eve ideas this week from Resorts of Ontario– dining and dancing at three beautiful  country inns and lots of fun filled activities at two lakeside resorts.

winter at the Westover Inn

The Westover Inn – an 1867 limestone mansion in St. Marys, Ontario

The Westover Inn is a limestone mansion in St. Marys, a town twenty minutes west of Stratford,Ontario. New Year’s Eve begins at 8pm here this year with a New World, Old World wine tasting and hors d’oeuvres party. That’s followed by a five course dinner that includes house specialities like the pork rib loin. Dinner and the wine-tasting reception are $85 per person. If you want to stay overnight, it’s $129 a person, double occupancy with dinner and reception included. Taxes and gratuities are extra.

I’m taking this space to announce the Westover’s annual holiday bake sale. I first heard about it years ago. Lots of Christmas baking is sold and the prices are terrific considering everything is made from scratch. Cookies and tarts are $4.50 a dozen. Squares are $7 a dozen and  homemade candy starts at $7.50 a pound. Advance orders are required. Call the inn for further details: 519-284-2977.

If you’ve never been to St. Marys, go! It has several limestone buildings and lots of rolling hills which make it interesting. A massive trestle bridge that once had the Grand Trunk railway running across it is now part of the Grand Trunk recreational trail, and in the centre of town is a former quarry. The town bought it years ago and every summer it becomes Canada’s largest outdoor swimming pool. The Westover was built in 1867 as a private home then it served as a Jesuit seminary before becoming the Westover. I’ve brought food writers here for a meal and a couple of years ago, Glenn and I had dinner and stayed overnight. I remember playing hooky the next morning. It was a Monday and instead of heading to the office, we hung out in big terry robes, sipping hot coffee and reading the Globe and Mail.

cottages on the shore of Lake Couchiching at Fern Resort

Fern Resort cottages on Lake Couchiching

Fern Resort is on Lake Couchiching near Orillia, Ontario, two hours north of Toronto. Four generations of the same family have operated this resort since 1918 and when we visited last March, we found out they’re still using the resort’s original tagline: “the home of rolls and honey”. Jim Pettapiece, a successful Ottawa baker bought the property in 1918 to run as an inn. Jim’s bakeries were famous for their buns so, Jim made sure his new inn served them too, along with his favourite honey, Crerar’s from eastern Ontario. Ninety-one years later, both bun and honey are still served.

On New Year’s Eve, all ages are welcome at Fern Fesort, even babes in arms. Check out the Fern website and a PDf on the site and you’ll see what I mean. It lists everything from a DJ-led kids dance to dogsledding to 2010 tea leaf readings. Some activities are free with accommodation. Others have a fee. Flexible two and three-day packages include three meals daily and start at $360 per adult. Reduced children’s rates are available.

bedroom at the Inn at Christie's Mill

Luxury at The Inn at Christie's Mill

If you’ve driven Highway 400 north of Toronto, you’ve likely passed the exit for Port Severn. This pretty community two hours northwest of Toronto is on the Trent Severn Waterway near Georgian Bay. Port Severn began as a lumber town in the mid 1800s. The Inn at Christie’s Mill stands on what was once a mill owned by the Christie family. It has a nice spa, superb dining, and large suites with fireplaces. New Year’s Eve dinner will be a sumptious seven course affair with party hats, favours, and a glass of sparkling wine to ring in the New Year. A full breakfast is planned for New Year’s Day. The price for dinner, room and breakfast is $164.50 per person, double occupancy. Taxes and gratuities are extra.

Pond hockey rink at Viamede Resort, Ontario

Viamede Resort & Spa is on Stoney Lake in the Kawarthas, two hours north east of Toronto. It has all you would expect from an Ontario resort in winter: pond skating, great cross- country skiing, snowtubing , tobogganing and wildlife viewing. A New Year’s Eve dinner and dance is $129 per couple. Add an overnight in one of the main lodge’s rooms for $285 a couple. Applicable taxes and service charges are extra. Stay two nights and the resort will throw in a $25 spa coupon that can be used towards a spa treatment of your choice. For couples traveling together or even a family of four, Viamede has cottages rentals. I looked into what a deluxe two bedroom would cost. These are equipped with a full kitchen, electric fireplace, and two baths, including a jacuzzi. A New Year’s Eve package in a deluxe two bedroom includes two nights’ accommodation, breakfast daily, the New Year’s dinner and dance, and a New Year’s Day brunch. It is priced at $770 a cottage.  Gratuities and taxes are extra and a two night minimum is required.

Gananoque Inn from the St. Lawrence River

View of the Gananoque Inn from the St. Lawrence River

The Thousand Islands are in the St. Lawrence River which straddles the international border between Canada and the United States. On the south side of the St. Lawrence is New York State and on the north side is the Province of Ontario. Picturesque and close to New York City, Montreal and Toronto, the Thousand Islands have attracted travelers for over a century. In the heart of the islands, you’ll find the resort town of Gananoque, Ontario, and the Gananoque Inn. The inn first opened in 1896. I stayed here with a BBC film crew and blogged about it. Muskie Jake’s, the inn pub, has a great atmosphere and while I haven’t eaten at Watermark, the inn’s fine dining restaurant, I hear it’s good and I know it has a fabulous river view. There’s also a nice spa. A one night New Year’s package here includes sparkling wine, chocolates, a four-course gourmet dinner at Watermark, breakfast, and a late check out. Rates are per couple and start at $275. Taxes and gratuities are extra.

winter view of the St. Lawrence River from a balcony at the Gananoque Inn

View of the St. Lawrence River from a balcony at the Gananoque Inn

More New Year’s Eve ideas are found on last week’s post. You can also sign up to receive the Resorts of Ontario monthly newsletter. It always has good mid week and weekend deals too. Have a safe holiday and Happy New Year everyone!

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