The Buzz: January/February 2015

Written by The Editors



How’s your appetite for winter? Getting full? Don’t give up yet — there’s plenty to enjoy around our region; restaurants, breweries, and inns, as well as tourism associations, are offering events and special winter promotions aplenty. Our regional tourism websites have great ideas, and here are some from eatdrink:

The tenth annual London Wine & Food Show moves to the Western Fair Agriplex January 15–17, for a bigger, tastier show. The larger venue and streamlined ticketing should help everyone have a great time sipping, chatting, tasting and exploring. Tickets are only $10 for opening night on Thursday (5pm–10:30pm), Friday is again the popular Ladies Night (5pm–10:30pm), and Saturday is an all-day affair (noon–10:30pm). Remember that the free seminars fill up early, so check the schedules as soon as you arrive at the show. And please drop by the eatdrink booth to enter our draw and say hello!

Londonlicious will run January 23 to February 8 this year, with restaurants offering 2-course lunches ($15 or $20) and 3-course dinners ($25, $30, $35 & $40). Try new restaurants and indulge yourself with some extra nights out at a bargain price. For a list of participants and menus, go to

The Habitual Chocolate micro-facility at Talbot and King is relocating back to its site at the Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market. The business produces a large variety of hand-crafted, single-origin chocolate that it retails by the bar and in drinking-chocolate form. In addition, they make a full line of fine confectionery and baker’s chocolate for culinary purposes. Swiss-trained lead chocolatier and pastry chef Philippe Lehner has purchased the business from owner Dave Cook.

Taste of Huron is running a special Winter Dining Program from February 18–28. Participants include Goderich’s Burdan’s Red Cat Farm & Bakery and Samuels Hotel, the Benmiller Inn & Spa, Bayfield’s Black Dog Village Pub & Bistro, Eddington’s of Exeter, Blyth’s Queens Bakery and Auburn’s Robinson Maple Products. Enjoy a 3-course lunch for $10–$15 and 3-course dinners from $29–$39.

Benmiller Inn and Spa in Goderich offers a Snowflake Package starting at $131 per person. That includes a special gift ($20 value) awaiting your arrival, over-night accommodations, a three-course à la carte dinner for two and a full Huron County breakfast in the morning.

Explore the restaurants and culinary experiences of Essex County during Winter Bites Restaurant Week from WindsorEats.  Indulge in 3-course meals at participating restaurants from Jan. 12–18 for only $10–$35. Over 25 restaurants serve up local cuisine and flavours from around the globe.

Take a drive to experience the Festival of Ice at participating Essex Pelee Island Coast Wineries, for an array of ice, snow and wine-filled activities. Follow the Wine Route to find ice sculptures, skating, bonfires, mulled wine, tours, food and best of all delicious Canadian Ice wine made in your backyard. Admission is a canned food donation to the local food banks. Also, you will be entered in a draw to win a gift basket featuring wine from all participating wineries. February 7–8, noon–5 pm.

Celebrate for three weekends in January as the Niagara Region is transformed into a wintry wonderland. Now in its 20th year, the Niagara Icewine Festival offers plenty for every taste, from elegant gala evenings to irresistible wine and food pairings and outdoor activities, from exploring Ice Street Villages to marshmallow roasting along the famed wine route.  Dairy Farmers of Canada will present seminars featuring unique artisanal  cheeses that complement the  icewines. January 9-24.

Dead Elephant Ale from St. Thomas’ Railway City Brewing Company is now easier to buy. “With 80% of beer being purchased through the beer store, we have had many customers ask us if we were available at the Beer Store,” notes Paul Corriveau. “Now we can simply reply ‘Yes’.” Although Railway City has been selling their Dead Elephant Ale in LCBO stores throughout Ontario for 6 years, The Beer Store’s “Pack-up” pricing allows customer savings with purchases of more than a single can. Dead Elephant Ale is available in singles, 4, 8, 16 or a case of 24. Railway City brews eight distinct brands of premium craft beer: Iron Spike (Blonde, Copper & Amber), Dead Elephant Ale, Canada Southern Draft, Honey Elixir, Black Coal Stout and, most recently, their Cranberry Festive Lager. They also brew monthly limited one-off beers featuring locally-grown ingredients. The Brewery features an onsite retail store with hourly tours and samples, 7 days a week.

If you enjoy preparing your meals with fresh local produce, and are looking for a little inspiration, visit Foodland Ontario’s website. As well as food facts, availability and nutrition guides, there are seasonal recipes, currently including Steamed Apple Maple Pudding, All Ontario Frittata .

The Telegraph House, a heritage inn in Port Stanley, is opening up its dining room on a limited part-time basis. The liquor license should arrive in the new year, when Jon and Vicci Coughlin will be offering dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. Enjoy Lake Erie Yellow Perch, Jon’s famous flat iron steak and daily specials. The Coughlins encourage BYOW (bring your own wine — commercially available only please).

Flying away this winter? On The Fly is a cozy café offering breakfast, lunch and dinner, located post-security at London Airport. Fully licenced, On the Fly is one of the newest regional restaurants to feature beer from Railway City Brewing Co.

Downtown London …

London City Council unanimously passed the boundary expansion of Downtown London, as of January 1, taking in Richmond Row and the surrounding area all the way to the north side of Oxford St. and to the Thames River. Richmond Row will retain its unique identity under the Downtown London umbrella.

For over 30 years, the Chinese Canadian National Council has celebrated Chinese New Year with the London community. As part of its strategic plan to reach out to a larger community and raise awareness of the Chinese arts, culture and heritage, Dragon Gala has become an annual fundraising event supporting local and international charitable organizations. This year’s gala will be held February 21 at the London Convention Centre.

Join members of the Ontario Wine Society at Aroma International Restaurant’s Wine Room on January 27, for an inaugural tasting event. The evening begins at 6:30. Contact for information and reservations.

Wich is Wich is an upscale sandwich shop with an open kitchen, opening soon at 125 King Street (across from the Covent Garden Market). The 40-45 seat shop will offer dine in, grab & go, and catering services. Customers will be able to email their orders in and pick up orders. The business is the brain-child of Elaine Sawyer (on-air radio show host) and her son chef Josh Sawyer (formerly of the Byron Freehouse).

The Crystal Lounge is close to opening on Richmond Street, across from the Grand Theatre in the old Maggie’s Supper & Jazz Club location, beside the Church Key Bistro-Pub.

The Big Mouth Deli has opened at 397 Clarence just south of Dundas. The menu includes Montreal smoked meat sandwiches, homemade soups, and salads.

Every Monday is comedy night at The Poacher’s Arms, when many stand-up comedians hit the stage for the evening. Every Tuesday at Poacher’s is Trivia night.

Stratford …

Explore “Nouveau Ontario” cuisine in the beautiful kitchen of The Bruce. Participate in interactive cooking classes, creating a four-course meal, along with complementary wines. Hands-on and designed for any age or ability, aprons and towels are provided, just bring comfortable shoes and your passion for cooking. Classes are offered only on 4 Sundays, starting January 11.

Bradshaws kicks off their annual January Sale on Friday January 9th at 9:30am. This is the venerable Stratford retailer’s only sale of the year, and you’ll find incredible deals. For the first three days of the sale, almost the entire store is at least 20% off, with some items at 30– 75% off. Special deals are arranged with Bradshaws suppliers, so think ahead for future birthday, anniversary, shower and wedding gifts. Coffee and snacks will be served to keep your energy levels high! The sale lasts the entire month.

Come out for a night of fun at The Parlour Inn. On January 17th, at Murder Mystery Dinner Theatre: Survivor, Murder in the Outback, the actors are right there amongst the audience. The story unfolds throughout dinner and is a great event for parties or couples. Another mystery awaits your solution on February 6, The Valentines Day Masseur.

Celebrate the Burns! Spend an evening at Mercer Hall, honouring Scotland’s most famous son: poet, author, soldier, and statesman. And eat haggis of course! Begin at the bar with a complimentary themed cocktail and snacks. Then proceed to the private dining room for a sit down dinner. January 24th.

Savour Stratford offers two cheese-related Tutored Tastings at the Milky Whey Fine Cheese Shop. On January 24, Cider and Cheese is an opportunity to discover something new for your palate. January 31 is Italian Wine & Cheese Pairing. In February, the Tutored Tastings will be Scotch and Chocolate, Soft & Supple Cheese meets Fortified Libation, and Spanish Wines & Cheese Pairings.

Stratford Chefs School is holding the Canadian Guest Chef Dinner Series in February at The Prune Restaurant. All dinners are $65 per person and include wine pairings.

CheeseFEST is a complimentary networking social event that brings together dairy producers, workers in commercial industry, and consumers. It takes place on the first evening of the Canadian Dairy XPO (CDX). Features will include a massive cheese buffet featuring cow, sheep, goat, Ayrshire and water buffalo cheeses, a world-renowned cheese carver, local wines and micro brews (cash bar). February 4, at The Rotary Complex.

Mercer Hall’s Supper Club attendees have fun with their food! February 28th will see the Roaring Twenties revived à la The Great Gatsby. Themed cocktails and snacks will be followed by a dinner of four-plus courses. Themed attire is encouraged — dress to impress!   

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The Editors