For many of us Labour Day weekend signifies the transition from the lazy days of summer back to our usual routines. But even if the number of beach days is down, there’s still plenty of fun to be had — close to home, or just a short drive away.
Doors Open! provides the opportunity to explore historical sites and architectural gems, including plenty for food and drink enthusiasts. In Port Stanley-Sparta, on September 19, check out the Lake Erie Salmon and Trout Club. The trout stream and fish farm was originally the site of a gristmill built in the early 1800s. At Quai du Vin Winery, meet the vintner, view the harvesting process, stomp grapes and sample the wines. On September 26, the Doors Open in St. Marys, and the following weekend in London. Then on October 17 St. Thomas will feature industries old and new, including Las Chicas del Café (who roast and package coffee out of St. Thomas’ historical CASO Station), Railway City Brewing Co., and GCW Custom Kitchens & Cabinetry. www.doorsopenontario.on.ca
With autumn comes the harvest and Thanksgiving: a great time to take a road trip, and to discover and enjoy nearby farmers’ markets, farmgates, farm-to-table restaurants and wineries. Farmers’ Markets Ontario provides resources to help you find top-quality and farm-fresh products — lists of markets, maps, dates of operation and more. farmersmarketsontario.com
It’s the season for fall fairs and for harvest festivals. From Aylmer to Wyoming, there’s a fabulous event coming to a town near you. For a full listing, by location and by date, visit www.ontariofairs.com
For the sixth year in a row, the Childreach fundraising dinner “anticiPLATE” will feature the combined efforts of some of London’s top restaurants and their chefs. This year the honours go to Black Trumpet, La Casa, Raja and Tamarine, four Downtown London stalwarts. The event will be held at Bellamere Winery & Event Centre on Thursday, October 1, from 6–10 pm . Childreach is a local well-established charity that supports children by reaching parents and supporting that critical relationship through a wide range of innovative and successful programs throughout the city. www.anticiplate.ca
Celebrate this autumn’s local harvest at the Covent Garden Farmers’ Market’s Fall Food Fest! Enjoy music, kid’s activities, and fabulous food sampling, featuring dishes from the farmers’ market! Saturday October 3, from 10am–1pm www.coventmarket.com
Feastival, the London Training Centre’s annual fundraiser, took place in July this year on the farm the Centre tends in London’s west end. The popular event for food enthusiasts was a great success, from the food to the weather to the ticket sales. Students of the Local Food Skills Program catered the event alongside special guest chefs and local food artisans like Las Chicas del Café, Railway City Brewing Company and volunteers from Les Marmitons London, who worked the pizza oven with Chef John Fisher. Stratford Chefs School loaned the wood oven that allowed them to serve incredible pizza to the guests. www.londontraining.on.ca
The Black Walnut Bakery Café in Wortley Village is a European-style café offering scratch baking seven days a week to a dedicated following from across the city. Co-owners Wilson and Mandy Etheridge are now opening a second location in the former P Za Pie location at Richmond and Piccadilly Streets. The café will also feature a patio. www.blackwalnutbakerycafe.com
The iconic Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest, showcasing Bavarian culture, music, cuisine — and drink — is coming to the Western Fair District this fall. The expansion to London started to develop during Western Fair’s Beer and BBQ festival and has been in the works with Kitchener-Waterloo Oktoberfest organizers since late last year. The announcement was marked with a keg-tapping by London Mayor Matt Brown and Western Fair Association CEO Hugh Mitchell. Events at the Western Fair District will be held in the Agriplex October 9–10 and October 15–17.
The Southdale Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market, located at the corner of Southdale and Millbank at the Westminster Park Church, is run by the Westminster Working Group and residents of the community. They started a farmers’ market to bring fresh, local food to the area because the neighbourhood does not have a grocery store. The seasonal market offers fresh, local produce every Thursday, 3–6 pm from August to September. There are a number of FREE children’s and community-focused activities.
The Loblaws Fanshawe Market store at 1740 Richmond St. N. has reopened with an updated look. The refurbished store highlights a three-metre high wall of more than 250 cheeses, an area dedicated to ready-to-eat specialties, a line of “restaurant-quality meals” prepared by in-house chefs, and a juice bar. The store is patterned after the company’s flagship store at Maple Leaf Gardens in Toronto and features stainless steel and blond wood surfaces, black tile, and a red and orange floor inspired by colours from the original Loblaws’ logo. Classes this fall at the popular Cooking School, run by Rebecca McIntosh, include “How to Host a Canning Party” and “Preserving the Abundance of Summer with instructor Maya Clarke, “Pizza Perfection” with Chef Claudio Giganti, and “Let’s Make Some Pies” with Chef Bobby Briones.
“Excellence and Innovation.” Chef Thomas Waite started the In Home Chef in 2010 as an outlet to express modern takes on cuisine. Waite wanted a way to show people that they have lots of options to experience innovations in dining. Delivering a professional restaurant experience directly, every in-home catering event is unique. www.theinhomechef.
Farm Boy now has three busy locations in London — Wellington, Masonville & Beaverbrook — offering a pleasing mix of fresh produce, local products, quality house brands, organic and gluten-free choices, butcher-quality meats, sustainable seafood and freshly prepared meals-to-go. Sign up for their free e-newsletter or enter their weekly recipe contest at www.farmboy.ca/london.
Food entrepreneur and culinary innovator Dave Cook recently purchased the former Merv’s Variety premises at 874 Dundas St., across from the Western Fair. He is renovating the property, and will be opening another Fire Roasted Coffee Café and a microbrewery in the space. In the meantime, he is waiting for the new Fire Roasted Café premises in Wortley Village to be rebuilt. If that isn’t enough, Cook is establishing a food incubator in the 14,000-square-foot Somerville Building at 630 Dundas St. in London’s Old East Village. He is developing a shared space where culinary entrepreneurs can set up and grow, in much the same way vendors can get their start at his Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market at Western Fair.
In stage one of the development, Cook is expecting to have space for small businesses incubation, for a Fire Roasted Coffee café and roastery, and for a grocery store. The grocery store is expected to be a joint initiative of Pathways and ATN Access, two local agencies that provide employment services for people with disabilities.
The London Economic Development Corporation (LEDC), in partnership with the Small Business Centre (SBC), will launch a multi-phase food and beverage programme to support entrepreneurship in the agri-food sector. This collaboration between the city’s economic development partners and the private sector builds on the recently announced food incubator. Programing will roll out this fall, and will feature a series of workshops and seminars targeted towards entrepreneurs looking to start their own food and beverage businesses. These workshops will provide expertise to help understand the unique challenges of starting a food business including regulatory requirements, branding, engineering and technology. There will be a database of organizations and experts who can provide mentorship, financing, networking and growth opportunities. “The suite of programing and services being offered through the London Economic Development Corporation and Small Business Centre will support our food incubation efforts and ensure those starting a food and beverage company have the tools they need to be successful,” said Dave Cook.
Patrick’s Beans is celebrating its one-year anniversary. Since its launch last September the reaction to its coffee has been great across SW Ontario. The one percent donation program has spread across four cities and is being very happily supported by businesses. The core line of six blends will stay the same, but new and unique coffees will be featured throughout the fall and winter. Also coming are Velvet Hammer t-shirts, and a new tea line produced exclusively for Patrick’s Beans. www.patricksbeans.com
Ovenclean London is a unique mobile kitchen cleaning service providing professional handcrafted cleans for ovens, stove tops, range hoods, fridges, BBQs, and microwaves. It’s the perfect service for home staging, moving into a new home, or just that once a year deep clean. Owner Tilda King notes that they “do not use high alkali gels or caustic chemicals, but a range of unique, 100% caustic-free solutions. No mess. No fumes. No bother.” www.ovenclean.ca
When planning a visit to Blackfriars Bistro, remember that the Blackfriars Bridge is now restricted to foot traffic only and come in from Wharncliffe Road.This has caused some frustration to visitors relying upon Google maps, which still tries to route drivers over the bridge. In the meantime, proprietor Betty Heydon still keeps her stellar crew plenty busy, creating new menus and providing some of the city’s top catering. www.blackfriarsbistro.com
Savour a traditional Thanksgiving Dinner at the Fanshawe Pioneer Village Cafe available all weekend, October 10 to 12. Sittings at 12 pm and 2 pm feature roast turkey and stuffing, mashed potatoes, root vegetables, homemade soup and fresh pies. www.fanshawepioneervillage.ca
Kosuma Foods — Judy Gremaud’s handmade energy bars — has moved downstairs (beside Habitual Chocolate) at the Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market at Western Fair. Harvest Pantry has moved into the 2nd-floor space previously occupied by Kosuma. Stormin’ Garlic and J.C.J. Apiaries have moved into the former Pepper Tree Spice Co. space across from Anything Grows on the main floor of the Market.
To more accurately describe its core business, Saucy: Meats and so Much More at the Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market at Western Fair has changed its name to The Village Meat Shop. Supplying premium hormone- and drug-free local meats, this is the London outlet for Metzger’s Meats, The Whole Pig, Lena’s Lamb, Blanbrook Bison, Glengyle Farms and Everspring Farms’ duck. In addition, the shop is pleased to partner with The Pristine Olive Tasting Bar, bringing ultra-premium olive oils and balsamic vinegars every week to the Market. www.reallygreatmeat.com
Enjoy casual dining year-round screened-in the newly renovated Restaurant Ninety One at Windermere Manor, located just steps away from Western’s main campus. Executive Chef Kristian Crossen (formerly of Braise and Langdon Hall), creates menus true to his farm-to-table philosophy. There is plenty of free parking. Reservations are recommended and private dining rooms can be arranged upon request. www.windermeremanor.com/dining
Chef/owner Dominic Raso is bringing a taste of New Orleans-style to London with Bourbon Street Cajun and Creole Kitchen. The new restaurant serves some Louisiana-inspired classics such as: shrimp creole, po’ boy sandwiches, pecan pie and jambalaya. Bourbon Street features an open kitchen and front and rear patios. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner and features a jazz brunch. 587 Oxford St. East (near Adelaide). www.bourbonstr.ca
The Black Trumpet offers casual fine dining in an architecturally stunning setting. Chef Scott Wessling has a contemporary take on world-inspired cuisine enhanced by local and seasonal ingredients. New this fall is “2 for 20” —two-course lunches for $20. www.blacktrumpet.ca
La Casa is also launching its own “2 for 20” — two-course lunches for $20 — promotion this fall. La Casa has been a London landmark for casual fine dining, featuring Italian and International cuisine, for 21 years in the heart of “Restaurant Row” on King Street. Chefs Jason Eccles and James Smith carry on the venerable ristorante’s tradition of consistent excellence with new seasonal menus. La Casa also features an extensive scotch selection. www.lacasaristorante.com
Get your tickets now for the annual United Way Campaign Launch & 3M Harvest Lunch at Budweiser Gardens. A delicious deli-inspired lunch will be served up, along with live entertainment. Thursday, September 17.
Jess Jazey-Spoelstra (of North Moore Catering, The River Room and Rhino Lounge at Museum London) has purchased the 7,000-square-foot building that once housed Custom Cuisine Catering on Wharncliffe Road. She has big plans for the space, including a massive kitchen and event space to cater cocktail parties for up to 200 and sit-down dinners for 130. Jazey-Spoelstra, her husband Harmen Spoelstra, and General Manager Sandra Doyle-Holden have set about building North Moore’s status as one of the city’s foremost caterers. www.northmoore.ca
Garlic’s of London’s next Honey Harvest Dinner Event is set for Thursday September 17th and John from Munro Honey and Meadery will be present to assist with honey sampling. There will be fresh baked treats for sale and different meads available for purchase. Of course, a honey inspired three-course meal will be served and reservations are a must! www.garlicsoflondon.com
Chef Josh Sawyer and mother Elaine Sawyer take comfort food to new heights at their “proper sandwich shop” Wich is Wich. The shop is essentially homage to the diversity of the sandwich. This fall, look for updates to the menus. Also look for grilled cheese nights to begin in October, offering three types of gourmet grilled cheese and homemade tomato soup. The stylish 40–45 seat shop offers dine in, grab & go, and catering services. Customers are able to email their orders for pick up. The shop features curb-side takeout as an option. www.wichiswich.ca
It is being proposed that Dundas Street in downtown London be transformed into a flexible street known as Dundas Place. To kick off the public engagement process, there will be a block party on Dundas Street between Talbot and Richmond Streets on Saturday, September 26. Restaurants will expand their patios into the street; there will be outdoor yoga and dance classes, merchants and sales, plus live music and entertainment. Visit the kick-off between 11am-3pm to learn more about Dundas Place. www.downtownlondon.ca
Fine dining isn’t dead. Restaurateurs just keep transforming and redefining it. Chef/owner Paul Harding of The Only on King recently went through a brief closure and minor renovation and reopened the restaurant as TOOK. Part of the transformation included expanding the business hours, offering lunch Tuesday through Friday, and offering take-away options including coffee and pastries. TOOK’s dinner service commences after 5 pm, with new menus focusing on small tapas-style portions, all priced under $20. Harding’s commitment to using locally sourced ingredients won’t change and the restaurant will still be serving some of its classic signature dishes, such as seasonal vegetable salad. TOOK will be open later in the evenings with an expanded cocktail and beer menu to coincide with the new approach to casual late night dining. www.theonlyonking.ca
Owner Miljan Karac announced that the celebrated Kantina, on Talbot Street, has undergone some changes. Kantina built its reputation on thoughtful and exciting riffs on Balkan-inspired cuisine with modern farm to table ideals. Now, after more than five years, Kantina has morphed into Black George — named after one of the house’s signature Balkan specialties: Black George schnitzel (Karadjordjeva), a delicious rolled fried pork schnitzel with kajmak stuffing. Black George officially opened on Tuesday, August 25. The updated interior is more casual, with less formal service and an innovative and accessibly priced menu offering. www.blackgeorge.ca
After 14 years, Aaron and Bronwyn Linley sold Bijou earlier this year, handing over the reins to new owners, Mark and Linda Simone, in March. The Linleys also had been operating the kitchen and restaurant in The Bruce Hotel but they were very ready for a change. In late July, they opened Linleys Food Shop, located at 51 York St (former home of the Clay Café). The shop is a chef-driven food shop that features catering, restaurant-style food to take away and a selection of retail food “for the gourmet in you.” www.linleys.ca
One of Stratford’s most anticipated openings this summer was The Red Rabbit. Jessie Larsen and chefs Sean Collins and Tim Larsen left Mercer Hall to construct the new community-shared restaurant on Wellington Street with partners/workers Simon Briggs (pastry chef), Adam Robinson (front of house), Tyson Everitt (Doctor and resident Soda Jerk and fermenting specialist), Steve Walters (front of house) and Gen Zinger (front of house). Collins is leading the kitchen at the worker-owned venture, along with sous chef Jon Naiman. Cassandre Frost is the new restaurant and bar manager. The restaurant has a dedicated focus on Perth County ingredients from area farmers, local producers, local brewers and distillers. Friday nights are “#burgerglory” after 7:30 pm and “the nosh” small plates tradition returns on Monday nights this fall. Open 7 days a week. www.redrabbitresto.com
Rob Wigan and Candice Sanderson Wigan of Molly Bloom’s Irish Pub purchased the iconic Church Restaurant where Stratford Chefs School started in the kitchens back in 1983. The former Baptist church turned fine dining establishment called Revival House debuted in July, in time to host the Stratford Summer Music opening night party. After a 10-day “soft opening” period, Revival House’s Grand Opening was held on Friday, July 31. Chefs Kyle Rose and Byron Hallett are operating the kitchen, emphasizing a menu that expresses the depth of Perth County’s food culture featuring whole animal butchery and charcuterie on the daily menu. Revival House is already changing up the seasonal menu to reflect the local Perth County crops. Introducing a Chilled Corn Soup (coriander, shallot, lemon) to the lunch menu and Corn Pudding (vanilla, white chocolate, caramel corn, bourbon, cherry). Revival House announces the opening of their upstairs Gastro-lounge Chapel, a 65-seat dining room for more intimate dinners, Revival House is excited to announce a 2015/2016 Concert Series titled “String Bone Presents …” featuring folk-rock performances by talents like Danny Michel, Emm Gryner, Madison Violet, New Country Rehab, Amelia Curran and more! View menus and ticket info at www.revival.house
After several delays, Down the Street Bar and Restaurant re-opened to rave reviews in July, with Jacqueline Hayton and new manager Alondra Gálvez. www.downthestreet.ca
Stratford Kiwanis Garlic Festival: Browse the Garlic and Artisan Market, watch celebrity chef cooking demos, attend garlic growing and braiding presentations and watch chefs and local celebrities duke it out in the Black Box competition. New this year: enjoy live entertainment and a beer and wine pavilion. It’s a celebration of everything garlic and a community project of the Kiwanis Club of Stratford. September 12 & 13 www.stratfordgarlicfestival.com
Forage and Feast — it’s mushroom time! Celebrate the season with a foraging trek along forest trails, only a 15-minute drive from Stratford. Visit Deer Haven Farm where the woods are home to more mushrooms including Lactarius Delicious, Blewits and Gem Studded fungi. Then return to Stratford for an upscale lunch of wild edibles in season. VQA wines, craft beer from local breweries and samples of Puck’s Plenty Nettle beer. September 12 and October 3. www.visitstratford.ca/event-details?event=1052&recurring
Stratford Chefs School Season Opener — Meet the students and hear about the exciting season ahead! The visiting chefs will be announced as you savour complimentary hors d’oeuvres and a cash bar. Friday, October 23rd, Rundles Restaurant. www.stratfordchef.com
Stratford Chefs School offers Classics Dinner Series (at The Prune Restaurant, October 27–31) and Lunch Series (at Rene’s Bistro, October 30–31) www.stratfordchef.com
Savour Stratford Culinary Trails: If you love pumpkin, come and join us on the new Pumpkin Trail, offered during September and October. Delicious tastes are offered from fudge, to tea to ice cream. Enjoy 6 tastes for only $25 (+HST), but only until October 31. Bacon and Ale and Chocolate Trails are available all year round at the Stratford Tourism Alliance, 47 Downie Street. www.visitstratford.ca/pumpkintrail, www.visitstratford.ca/bacontrail
Farm Gate Dinner. On September 19, enjoy a splendid evening: a great dinner prepared with food from all of the farmers featured during the Straw Bale tour. Meet the farmers and taste the fruits of their labours, with live entertainment and door prizes. And fun! www.visitstratford.ca/event-details?event=1756&recurring=
Savour Stratford Tutored Tasting: Cider and Cheese Pairing. The popularity and variety of traditional ciders available in Ontario has exploded. Cider pairs wonderfully with great cheese. On October 10th spend the afternoon savouring some new discoveries in fermented ciders. www.visitstratford.ca/event-details?event=2223&recurring=
Savour Stratford Tutored Tasting: Blue Cheese & Port. On October 24, try this classic pairing. Sample a variety of blue cheeses from around the world with late harvest Vidal, Spanish sherry, and of course, port. Tickets are available online or by chance at the beginning of this tasting. www.visitstratford.ca/event-details?event=2224&recurring=
The Harvest is a community gathering to celebrate with the chefs and farmers of Perth County. Look forward to producers selling their goods alongside chefs cooking, live music, youth activities and more. The Harvest is a local initiative created with a desire to strengthen community ties and further Stratford’s food story. Market Square on October 18, 11am–4pm. www.visitstratford.ca/event-details?event=2310&recurring=
Stratford Chefs School recently announced Gabrielle Hamilton will be the school’s Joseph Hoare Gastronomic Writer in Residence in 2015-2016. The program is one-of-a-kind and unique to chef training in Canada. Launched in 2007, the program is sustained by the family of the late Joseph Hoare, former food editor at Toronto Life magazine, and a group of other donors. Chef-owner of the lauded 30-seat Prune restaurant in Manhattan’s East Village, Gabrielle Hamilton was named Best Chef NYC by the James Beard Foundation in 2011, after two earlier nominations for the honour. Hamilton famously authored the edgy 2011 memoir, Blood, Bones and Butter: The Inadvertent Education of a Reluctant Chef, which candidly chronicles her apprenticeship as a cook and her unflinching journey through disparate kitchens to becoming a chef and restaurateur. While at the school from January 11-23, 2016, Hamilton will also work alongside students in preparing three Stratford Chefs School dinners, bringing a little of her Prune to Stratford’s Prune Restaurant, the school’s venue partner.www.stratfordchef.com
Around the region
On August 15, Eurohome Appliances (formerly The European Appliance Store) cut the ribbon at their new location at 40550 Amberly Road in Wingham ON. The business is dedicated to bringing customers some of the highest quality and functioning home kitchen appliances — brands carried include Smeg, Porter & Charles, Urban Cultivator, AEG and Liebherr — at the best prices possible. www.eurohome-appliances.com
McCully’s Fall Harvest Festival 2015. Bring your family to the scenic McCully’s Hill Farm to join the fun at the Fall Harvest Festival! Enjoy horse drawn wagon rides, corn maze, pumpkin catapult, pedal tractor pull, face painting, crafts, barrel train, sand mount and visiting the pumpkin patch. October dates www.mccullys.ca/
Arts and Cookery Bank in West Lorne offers The Lost Arts Series. Natural Pickling (September 16), and Pies, Tarts & More (October 15) will inspire confidence and teach you the skills to try these at home. You’ll leave with a Lost Arts Guide Book with recipes, tips and techniques … so you don’t get lost at home. theartsandcookerybank.com
In September, Tourism Oxford is encouraging everyone to dine, shop and cook local during Oxfordlicious, the annual farm-to-table celebration. The month-long dining event features local fare at participating restaurants. Chefs and growers are keen to create special seasonal menus throughout the entire month of September. www.tourismoxford.ca
FINE: A Restaurant celebrates their 10th anniversary this year as a premier dining destination in Grand Bend. Chef/Owner Erryn Shephard launched the business in 2005 and, with Chef Ben Sandwith now in the kitchen too, keeps patrons happy year-round with a continuously evolving fine dining menu. The patio will stay open as long as weather permits! www.finearestaurant.com
Celebrate Queen Elizabeth II as the longest reigning British monarch on September 11 at the Woodstock Museum fundraiser. A Royal Tea will be a time to “Dress to impress” like it’s Coronation Day 1953 and try fun Royal Trivia. www.tourismoxford.ca/oxford-fresh/events/detail/articleid/4494
Unique farm tours, part of the Chatham-Kent Table activities, offer the chance to get out on a farm and talk to a farmer, learn about why they produce and why it is different. Choices include Pasture Based Beef Tour & Beef Comparison Tasting, Blueberry Patch Walk with Bruce Parks, Heirloom Wheat Bread Tasting, and Okra Tasting and Learning. September 12. www.cktable.ca/fresh-from-the-table/
At the Windsor Craft Beer Festival, local and craft brewers from across the province will be participating in a festival to celebrate a much loved libation. Not your typical beer event … this one will be a good ol’ fashion neighbourhood party! October 16 and 17. windsoreats.com/beerfest/
The Thanksgiving Market & Sidewalk Sale is an annual outdoor market in Grand Bend. It features locally raised, grown, made or prepared meats, fruits, vegetables, baking, crafts and artisanal products. October 10-11. grandbendtourism.com/events/…