Profiles of Excellence: Regional Slow Food Tours

Written by The Editors

Loving Local

Oxford County ON

From fine dining to farmers’ markets, and everything in between, Oxford County has so many possibilities to choose from. Woodstock, located at the junction of highways 401 and 403, sits right in the middle of the county, surrounded by scenic countryside dotted with charming towns and villages. Explore the Cheese Trail or set your own course for a richly rewarding culinary tour. Have a sweet tooth? Check out Habitual Chocolate in Woodstock, a bean-to-bar chocolate shop , or Chocolatea in Ingersoll, for handcrafted chocolates and world teas. Whatever your passion, you can likely indulge it and get an authentic taste of historic Oxford County.

The Cheese Trail 

Five unique cheese companies form the backbone of a diverse trail featuring every facet of the cheese experience. Shep Ysselstein at his Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese is among the finest artisanal cheesemakers in Ontario. Located on Gunn’s Hill near Highway 59 in Norwich Township, you also can enjoy pre-booked interpretive talks and demonstrations.

In Bright, enjoy the wonderfully flavourful naturally-aged Bright Cheese & Butter’s extra-old cheddar — and other award-winning favourites —made by a cooperative cheese factory dating back to 1874 that still uses milk supplied by local dairy farms.

For over two decades, Local Dairy Products Amarjit Singh and his family — have been producing high quality, artisanal, local and all natural dairy products out of a historic cheese factory in Ingersoll. You’ll find unique products inspired by the international world of cheeses, as well as 20 vegetarian products including yogurt, cultured butter and ghee. Find them at Ingersoll Foodland.

The van Bergeijk family founded Mountainoak Cheese in 1996, after studying cheese making in Gouda and running their own dairy farm outside New Hamburg. Their state-of-the art facility uses milk from their own herd. Enjoy 18 flavours of gouda and other award winning varieties. Pre-book tours.

Quality Sheep Milk Ltd produces farm-fresh dairy products worth the stop on their 128-acre sheep and dairy goat farm in Salford. Ellis, Hazel and Sion Morris make fine cheeses and yogurts such as their Italian-style Pecorino cheese and feta.

Get your Cheese Trail map to see the wide variety of experiences available. And don’t miss the Ingersoll Cheese and Agricultural Museum, dedicated to the preservation, exhibition and interpretation of objects that reflect Oxford County’s unique history.

The Restaurant Scene

A variety of dining options await! Sixthirtynine is a stellar 30-seat Woodstock restaurant offering ever-changing seasonal menus of locally-sourced ingredients from Owner/Chef Eric Boyar. A Chef’s Table and tasting menus are available upon request.

Elm Hurst Inn & Country Spa, just off Hwy 401 at Ingersoll, features nine private dining rooms in a heritage mansion full of modern amenities, with Executive Chef Michael Davies helming the kitchen.

Louie’s Pizza & Pasta has been an Ingersoll tradition since 1994. Chef Michael Gibson and his crew prepare a large menu selection in a casual family dining atmosphere.

The Olde Bakery Cafe is a popular spot in Ingersoll to linger over breakfast — try the Mexican Caramel Latte — have lunch with friends or just drop by for a decadent dessert..

Woodstock’s Charles Dickens Pub, managed by Karen Culley, provides a cozy, warm and welcoming ambience, good food and local entertainment.

Farms & Producers

Among the many farms offering unique regional tastes distinctive to Oxford are several farm gate businesses. Greener Pastures Eco-Farm in Innerkip specializes in pasture-raised beef, pork and chickens, includingBelted Galloway cows and Tamworth pigs. YU Ranch raises lean heritage breed Texas Longhorn cattle and sells grass-fed beef on site.

Credit: Carolyn Bentum Photography

Berrylicious Fruit Farm offers — no surprise! — berries. Visitors are welcome to pick their own blueberries and elderberries (seasonally) plus shop a selection of jams, raspberries, pumpkins and enjoy several experiential summer events. Thames River Farm grows and sells a variety of vegetables and fruits from asparagus and zucchinis to sweet corn and raspberries.

If it’s a one-stop-shop you seek, check out local farm shops Bre’s Fresh Market and Sundown Farms in Tillsonburg. You’ll find a variety of fresh produce grown on their farms plus a large selection of produce, cheese and more from their neighbours. Oxford has you covered when it comes to fresh and local ingredients for your next meal.

Shops & Markets

Of course, Oxford is also home to a number of small scale producers. To try out a broad selection, check out the local famers’ markets. The Woodstock Farmers Market — year-round since 1843 — is located at the Woodstock Fairgrounds, where you’ll stumble across a number of local tastes including fresh produce, baked goods, coffee and tea, award-winning cheese and more. The Downtown Woodstock Farmers Market, located in historic Museum Square, Ingersoll Farmers Market and Tillsonburg Farmers Market all offer a wide selection of produce, meat, eggs and more seasonally. Wander the stalls, chat with the farmers and find a unique local flavour.

For Maps, Itineraries & More Information

Visitor Centre: 580 Bruin Blvd, Woodstock
Phone: (519) 539-9800 ext. 3355 
Toll Free: 1-866-801-7368 

About the author

The Editors