The BUZZ: March & April 2016

Written by The Editors



Around Our Region 

You can easily spend an hour, a day or a weekend exploring along the Oxford County Cheese Trail. The trail is divided into hubs to help you identify what highlights are nearby. If you plan on seeing everything on the trail, the suggested route starts at Mountainoak Cheese and continues to Bright Cheese & Butter, Woodstock, Gunn’s Hill Artisan Cheese, Norwich, and to Tillsonburg and Ingersoll (or Ingersoll–Tillsonburg–Norwich works, too). By following this route, your next stop is always just 20 minutes away or less.

The Dairy Capital Cheese Fest is a one day interactive family event on April 23 that will celebrate Woodstock, Ontario’s recognition as the Dairy Capital of Canada and connect the community to local cheese makers, artisans and restaurants in Woodstock and the surrounding area.

Woodstock is about to enter the craft beer scene with a brewery slated to open in June. Upper Thames Brewing Co. is getting its new home at 225 Bysham Park ready to produce small batches of five beer styles, including a Scotch ale and a Belgian wheat.

Get out to McCully’s Farm and learn how maple syrup is made! Take a horse drawn wagon ride through the sugar bush, see how the sap is collected, and then visit the sugar shack. Make a stop in the barn and see what the animals are up to and then stay for a delicious pancake brunch featuring McCully’s own maple syrup. Weekends starting Saturday, March 5th to Sunday, March 27th.

Chris and Mary Woolf recently celebrated two years in business with Little Red’s Pub and Eatery in downtown St. Marys. The Woolfs have been dedicated and loyal proponents of the area’s farmers, artisans, and sustainable and organic producers for two decades. The eatery features a wide selection of Ontario craft beers and wines.

Railway City Brewery of St. Thomas has launched a new series that plays on a circus theme. The first entry in Railway City’s Side Show series is Strong Man, which has been described as a “big, buff, and burly Belgian dark strong ale.” It’s 10.3 per cent alcohol, offered in 500 ml bottles and dressed up with a red bottle cap for which you’ll need a bottle opener.

Hope made Delicious! Participating restaurants will open their doors for A Taste for Life on Wednesday April 20th and donate 25% of the evening sales to AIDS Service Organizations in the community. Support men, women and children in your community by going out to dinner. A Taste for Life serves the regions of Perth, Huron, Oxford, Elgin, Lambton and Middlesex counties.

Congratulations to Chef Mark Graham of the Clock Tower Inn and Strathroy Ale House for winning one of the Architectural Conservancy Ontario & London Heritage Council HERITAGE Awards for 2016. The award is being given to the restaurant for the restoration of a landmark historic building; converting it into a warm and welcoming inn and restaurant.

Want more maple syrup? Visit Jakeman’s Maple Farm in Oxford County near Beachville in March and help support the local 4H clubs by eating delicious pancakes topped with Jakeman’s Pure Maple Syrup!

Ontario’s Southwest (OSW) is presenting a second City Fare event on May 26th in Toronto, with support from local destination marketing organizations. This intimate tasting event will showcase the region’s wines, craft beers, and culinary partners. OSW is again partnering with Yellow Wine Club to coordinate this occasion.

Steven, David and Grant Sparling have announced plans to open a new craft brewery in Blyth — Cowbell Brewing Company. The project, which will also include a brew-pub, event space and an on-site farm, is expected to take several months to complete. But early offerings with be available from the LCBO beginning in May, through a co-packing agreement with a Hamilton brewery.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced in mid-February the government’s plan to allow wine sales in a limited number of grocery stores across the province. The province will allow imported and domestic wine sales at up to 150 grocery stores, starting with 70 locations this fall. These new ventures will join 150 winery retail stores that currently operate just outside grocery store checkouts in the province. Half of the new licences will stipulate the winning grocery store sell only VQA wines for the first three years before being allowed to bring in other wines. Ontario will also allow cider to be sold where beer is available for purchase in the province.

A new festival is coming to the Town of Leamington this summer. It will celebrate locally sourced food and beverages designed to bring chefs, farmers, winemakers, brewmasters and local food producers together to create a culinary experience.


Stratford’s sweetest trail yet celebrates the taste of Ontario’s first crop of the season and is only available during March and April! The Savour Stratford Maple Trail takes you on a self-guided taste of maple delights. Pick up your spoon to enjoy fresh maple syrup atop vanilla ice cream garnished with maple flakes or refreshing maple frozen yogurt. Enjoy hand-made maple creams enrobed in chocolate, copper kettle made maple fudge and traditional maple sugar candy. Relax while savouring a maple dessert in a majestic dining room or take away maple mocha java, or naturally maple-flavoured Ceylon tea, to share with friends at home. Create your own maple experience from more than a dozen choices.

For over three decades, Keystone Alley Café was both popular and highly respected. Hospitality stalwarts Sheldon and Patti Russell retired at the end of October 2015. However, the Russells are still operating The Key’d Inn, which opened in 1999 and consists of two spacious suites located above the restaurant, offering stylish bed and breakfast accommodation.

Revival House Concerts: Amelia Curran with Jory Nash — March 24. They Promised You Mercy is the latest collection of songs from Amelia Curran, Canada’s master contemporary songstress. The Rizdales — April 21. A tribute to Ray Price with special guests. Lead by husband and wife songwriting team Tom and Tara Dunphy, the Rizdales are a hardcore honkytonk band from London, Ontario with a sound that comes from deep in the American south. Why not start with dinner before the concert for a memorable evening in Stratford?

Swan Parade Weekend Celebrations: April 2–3. Stratford salutes spring with the quirky ritual of marching the swans to the Avon River. Family fun starts Saturday downtown with live entertainment, music, street performers and a quest for decorated swan topiaries and a chance to win prizes. On Sunday there will be family entertainment, and food trucks run from 12 noon–3 pm on Lakeside Drive with the swans parading at 2 pm lead by the Stratford Police Pipes and Drums. (Swan Parade only takes place on Sunday)

Puck’s Plenty Early Spring Foraging — April 16, 23, 30. Join naturalist/forager Peter Blush as he searches forest trails for springtime wild edibles such as wild leeks, trout lilies, saddle mushrooms, wild ginger and more, while you discover the natural beauty of forest and field just a short drive from Stratford. Learn to harvest these delicious gems of nature sustainably. Recipes for seasonal wild edibles will also be supplied.

Rundles Weekend Cooking Classes: Weekends in April
( Friday-Sunday). Rundles Restaurant provides a unique culinary experience for those interested in hands on cooking under the guidance of one of our country’s most celebrated chefs — Neil Baxter. Immerse yourself in three fabulous days of culinary learning. (Accommodation is not included.)

Junction 56 Distillery Tours. Come to Stratford’s newest distillery, specializing in vodka, gin and moonshine. Stop by on a Saturdays for a lively and informative tour. 45 Cambria Street.

Bijou will be serving Sunday Brunch, presenting “Global Dim Sum” directly from the Dim Sum cart. Brunches will commence Sunday, March 27 and continue throughout the year. The Prix Fixe menu will be available from Thursday, April 28 through Thanksgiving. Bijou is planning not to close next winter (expect to hear exciting details early summer).


After seven great years in London, Veg Out chef/owner Florine Morrison announced that she would be closing Veg Out in April. Culinary stalwarts Yoda Olinyk and Mike Fish — associates of Morrison —announced in January they’ll be opening their new restaurant Glassroots in the premises at 646 Richmond St. after Veg Out closes. Olinyk is a Red Seal chef who operates a very successful vegetarian catering company called Yoda’s Kitchen in St. Thomas, and runs a stall at the Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market on Saturdays. Fish, her partner in life and work, is a certified sommelier and brings years of experience and training in the wine industry with a goal to offer one of London’s best wine, craft beer and cocktail lists. Glassroots will be a hub for healthy food culture, as well as a haven for wine lovers. It is expected to open in May.

Justin and Gregg Wolfe of The Early Bird diner and Rock au Taco continue to work on their new concept Wolfe of Wortley. They are trying to bring a new experience to Wortley Village with a cozy 24-seat restaurant and a 14-seat patio, but have had a delay in getting the place rezoned by the City. The concept includes oysters and charcuterie, a frequently changing shareable menu … different from pub fare happening in the neighbourhood now. Expect a May opening date.

One of our favourite offerings at the London Wine and Food Show were Farm Boy’s pork belly and kimchee on hand-made steam buns, by Chef Stephanie Brewster and her team. Brewster told us that she recently accepted the GM position at The Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington, with Spectra. She is excited about the opportunity for creativity and building a brand, but we are going to miss her in London!

Manito’s has moved from the Covent Garden Market to the former El Ranchito premises on Wellington Road in SoHo. They specialize in Portuguese style piri-piri rotisserie chicken, ribs and made-to-order panini press sandwiches.

Fancy Tarts is a family-owned and operated bakeshop, located at 360 Springbank Drive. Shirley Lassaline and daughters Melissa Lassaline and Sara Saldana specialize in from-scratch butter tarts, pies, squares, cakes and loaves. Call or text in the morning — have a beautiful, hot-out-of-the-oven pie for dinner. They are also happy to help with any corporate and event catering needs. Look for them throughout the region at home shows, farmers’ markets and summer festivals. And you can find them on Facebook, anytime!

Sasa and Branka Milidrag’s Euro Pastry has moved to 467 Dundas Street. Only pure, high quality natural ingredients are used in their baking, with no added chemicals or preservatives. Inspired by the classic European baking canon, cookies, cakes (Sacher tortes, Black Forest and Moscow Snit), pastries, bureks, strudels and savouries are made in-house daily, from scratch. The bakery has expanded its menu to include goulash, cabbage rolls, vegetables soups and take-out lunches, especially enjoyed by students at Catholic Central high school across the street and Beal secondary school, a block east. Quality and a high level of service are the hallmarks of the hands-on

The Western Fair District is now taking applications for the 2016 Agricultural Leadership Intern Program. This program is designed to expand the student’s knowledge of the importance of agriculture, ag-education programming and public service. It will also provide learning and professional experiences for the intern. It is a paid position. Submit your application by Friday, March 25.

Bill Reath and the folks at Kinehdn Maple Sugar Company at the Western Fair Farmers’ & Artisans’ Market feature fine maple products, maple sugar, syrup, BBQ sauce, maple mustard and more. Passionate about their products, they love making people happy, and are proud to serve traditional candy apples with a maple syrup coating and maple suckers that are 100% pure maple syrup.

Since 1972, the Kinsmen Club of Greater London has been providing outdoor family fun at Fanshawe Sugar Bush. There are demonstrations of tree tapping, and sap lines, craft demonstrations, musicians and displays by community groups, and mouth-watering pancakes! The sugar bush will be open during March Break and on weekends in

Restaurateur Marvin Rivas, who blends tradition and innovation in true Latin American style at his chic downtown hot-spot, Che Restobar, will reopen for lunch Monday to Friday beginning in March. Chefs Chris Lamb and Brian Honsinger will launch a new dinner menu as well as a lunch-time tapas-style menu from Monday to Wednesday.

The YOU Made It Café is open Monday to Friday from 7:30 am to 2:30pm. The café is the perfect place to have breakfast, lunch or to purchase a seasonal soup, salad, gourmet sandwich or panini to go. You can even order in advance for pick-up. Each month, YOU, through its YOU Made It Café, partners with a local guest chef for the Cornerstone Cuisine Dinner Series. The evening event features customized prix fixe dinner menus for attendees, which caters to a specific cultural cuisine.

We appreciate the London Wine Bar experience, which to us means you can stop by without a reservation, sit at the bar or at a table, and sample some interesting wine features by the glass, then move on to your next stop in the area—or take refuge if you really want to unwind. Inspired by traditional Parisian wine bars, Mario Jozic and Laura Del Maestro strive to make quality wine approachable while creating a relaxed and hospitable atmosphere. There is a limited focus on Ontario wines but many international selections. To complement the wine selection, they feature a range of charcuterie-type boards with cured meats, locally-sourced cheeses and a variety of chocolate products created exclusively for pairing with wine by Forrat’s Chocolates.

Tourism London is proud to announce that the Country Music Association of Ontario (CMAO) will host regional showcase and artist seminars in London, Ontario on March 19. The CMAO will present member artists with the opportunity to perform at The Bull & Barrel Urban Saloon located in the heart of downtown London.

The Winter Indoor Farmers’ Market at Covent Garden Market Farmers’ Market, on Saturday from 9 am to 1 pm., runs to March 19th upstairs on the mezzanine. A special Outdoor Easter Farmers’ Market will operate on Saturday, March 26th 8 am to 1pm. You can expect some of your favourite farmers, bakers and crafters to be on hand.

Help raise $50,000 in vital funds for Meals on Wheels London programs and services. Join in at the annual fundraiser Move for Wheels (formerly Walk for Wheels) on Friday, March 18, 2016 at Covent Garden Market.

Freshii has opened a second location downtown inside the Goodlife in Citi Plaza.

A recent addition to London’s varied ethic cuisine scene, Bamyan Afghan Cuisine at 573 Richmond (just north of Albert Street) is where you can find traditional Afghan plates, including delicious, freshly barbecued, sizzling kababs with hot tandoori naans. The cuisine has similarities to Indian food.

Twisted Toque, the Canadian-themed restaurant in the former Brass Door premises at the Park Lane Hotel, is expected to open in May.

Linda D’Andrea tells us that Black Trumpet is enjoying a very successful partnership with the Grand Theatre’s Dining and Show program. Black Trumpet is also participating in Tastings on May 5. Tastings is a London Health Sciences Cancer Care fundraiser, sponsored by CIBC, and held at the London Hunt Club. www.

Chef Jason Eccles and Chef James Smith at La Casa and Chef Scott Wesseling at Black Trumpet continue to feature their 2 for $20 two-course lunch. &

Petit Paris is proud to present the The Coop Rotisserie at the Covent Garden Market. The Coop will focus on simple rotisserie chicken dinners with several sauce and side choices that include fresh cut fries, a selection of fresh salads, daily soups, and delectable desserts baked every day by Petit Paris. The Coop will also be offering a simple but delicious breakfast menu from 8–11 am Monday–Saturday and Sundays 11am–4pm. Take out, or dine in their new seating area and enjoy the real “Market Feel” that the Covent Garden Market offers.

Havaris Produce has opened Sacred Earth Whole Foods, specializing in organic produce, in the premises formerly occupied by Fraumeni’s Fruits and Vegetables at the Covent Garden Market. The Havaris family business has been associated with the Market since 1912.

Paul L. Smith is known for his personal touch at the Covent Garden Market, harkening back to the time when he was assisting his father with a fruit and vegetable business founded in 1880 by his grandfather Chancey Smith. Hasbeans has been roasting and shipping fresh, specialty-grade, gourmet coffee across Canada since 1969. Promoting the distinct qualities that each coffee bean develops within its’ natural environment, Hasbeans has become a market staple for their Fair Trade brew and one-of-a-kind personal touch.

The Braywick Bistro and Amici Restaurant have closed.

Treat yourself to an unforgettable culinary experience as you dine in style at the Idlewyld Inn restaurant, surrounded by the elegance of their Victorian mansion. The 70-seat dining room offers a locally-inspired menu of contemporary and traditional favourites and decadent desserts, complemented by a selection of award-winning wines, and draughts and ales on tap. Sunday Brunch.


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The Editors