Feast ON Culinary Crawl with Niagara Parks

The Feast ON the Parkway Culinary Crawl had Small Fry Heather joined by a special guest co-poster, Jessica from Hoppily Ever After.

The folks at Niagara Parks invited us on a Culinary Crawl to check out the five restaurants of the Niagara Parkway. We accepted with excitement – as Winston Churchill once apparently said about the Niagara Parkway, it’s the “prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world”.

Along the Parkway, there are gardens, golf courses, attractions like the Butterfly Conservatory and Journey Behind the Falls, and – you guessed it – restaurants. The area is steeped in history and Canadiana, and the restaurants took that theme and ran with it. There’s strong focus on local food in all five (three of which are certified “Feast ONrestaurants).hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 1 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

Our first stop (joined by a troupe of Ontario writers, including fellow Hamiltonians Chanry, from the Hungry Gnome, and Kristin, from I Heart Hamilton) was Queenston Heights Restaurant, a two story primarily event-location perched on a hill with an amazing view of the river, meticulously tended gardens stretching all the way around, and War of 1812 battle history (we won this one).

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The potato gnocchi carbonara (with double-smoked Ontario bacon, Hamilton cremini mushrooms, and baby arugula in pecorino romano cream) was to-die-for delicious. The gnocchi was filling without being heavy, the cheesy cream sauce was the stuff dreams are made of.hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 5 | Hamilton, Ontario Day TripThe Chateau des Charmes Gamay Noir was the wine match, rich enough to match the cheese but light-bodied enough for the pasta. This was definitely our favourite dish of the night.

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Whirlpool Restaurant at the Whirlpool Golf Course was next. We’re no golfers, but apparently this is a more traditional course, designed by a world-renowned golf-course creator (according to our awesome tour guide, Ryan Moran).

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 6 | Hamilton, Ontario Day TripThe club house matched the simple, traditional feel, and they had a pretty little area set up for us.

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The soup and salad course at Whirlpool was a spicy butternut squash bisque and a spinach salad (with dried cranberries, toasted sunflower seeds, and mandarins topped with a sweet onion VQA riesling mandarin vinaigrette). It came with a “nosy goat” cheese crostini on the side, the perfect tangy offset for the sweetness of the fruit.

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The accompanying wine was Hernder Estate’s Riesling, bringing back the sweetness full circle.

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The third stop was to Legends on the Niagara, a large, newer, sweeping golf course with not one, but TWO 18-hole courses.

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Again, the club house matched the feel: big, sweeping, rustic wood and stone with a beautiful, giant back porch overlooking the green vistas.

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 11 | Hamilton, Ontario Day TripThey served up braised beef short ribs wrapped in bacon, mixed Sledgers greens (a local farm), balsamic glaze, with a seared hot pepper on each tray. We were told it came from the chef’s garden. The meal was rich, the flavours complemented each other, and Peller Estates hearty Cab Franc was a perfect match.

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The second to last stop was Edgewaters at Queen Victoria Place Restaurant. Downtown Niagara Falls, it’s a second floor patio restaurant with a pub-like vibe and an amazing view of the Falls – right across the street. On this night, the Falls were lit up in rainbows. It’s a seasonal restaurant though, since it’s an open patio!

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Their offering was a pepper berry rubbed northern rainbow trout (another Canadian staple), curried seven grain salad with cilantro yogurt. We didn’t find the fish too strong in flavour, so the strong tastes of the curry and light yogurt matched it well. Malivoire’s Lady Bug Rose was a good complement for trout.

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The final stop was Elements on the Falls, even closer to the water than Edgewaters (and we didn’t think that was possible). It’s a closed-in restaurant, so it’s all-seasons, and it sits right on top of the top edge of Niagara Falls. Obviously, the view is phenomenal.

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First they served grilled muscovy duck on shoal lake wild rice (an authentically Canadian rice), pinge capicola crisp (salty and crispy, portioned out with each bite of the silky duck), covered with sweet cherry glaze. It was paired with an Inniskillin Niagara Series Pinot Noir, which matched the meal element for element. No pun intended.

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Finally, it was time for dessert, and Elements certainly doesn’t disappoint. Our dessert was a display of a poached Bartlett pear in Cab Franc, with Maple Mousse Cream in a chocolate cup, and honey tuile crisp. Gorgeous and delicious!

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Though you may not want to do every restaurant in one day, (like we did on this Culinary Crawl) we recommend checking out the Niagara Parkway on a day trip or weekend getaway. It’s right in our backyard, and you’ll find a lot of character in this place of natural wonders.

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Have you been to any of the Niagara Parks restaurants? Review them with us in the comments below!

Jessica Peter - Guest Writer

 

Guest co-poster: Jessica Peter is one half of Hoppily Ever After, a Hamilton-based craft beer blog. She’s a #HamOnt super-fan with a passion for local shows, local food & drink, trying to see the whole world, and writing kind-of-strange novels in her spare time.

 

 

Niagara USA

Hamilton Small Fries is on the move again!

You know we’re #HamOnt obsessed, I mean – we named our blog Hamilton Small Fries and started it in the first place because we wanted to share our love of Hamilton restos with our friends, family and other Hamiltonians. And maybe even help drive more tourism here!

While most weekends we can be found downing hot bevvies on Locke, eating greek on John or dining on James – last weekend we ventured out of our city – and country! – to explore, courtesy of Niagara Falls US Tourism.

While there is tons of fun and adventure to be had in Hamilton, one thing we do love about Hamilton is it’s proximity to so many exciting excursion locations.

We were invited out to Niagara USA for a weekend trip full of food, activities and wine – and after our visit out to Buffalo USA, we jumped at the offer.Niagara Buffalo USA | hamilton small fries | Silo City | Torn Space Theatre Picture 1

Where We Stayed

About the City – Most of us have been to Niagara Falls, and for us Canadians, we think it’s safe to say most of us have tended to stay on our side of the water. But don’t let border patrol stop you! (Well, unless they do, in which case please adhere to their decision – ha).

The US side of the falls was a nice change in scenery for us Canadian fries and there are lots of things to do! Check out Niagara USA’s website to learn even more about what to do in this fun city!

About the Giacomo Hotel – The Giacomo is a luxury boutique hotel in Niagara Falls, NY. They offer 41 elegantly decorated rooms combined with top-notch service. You don’t just stay at the Giacomo Hotel. You experience it. Their location is in close proximity to the Falls, Cave of the Winds, Maid of the Mist and State Parks – where you can experience the raging rapids and all of the magnificence of nature that Niagara has to offer.

Niagara Buffalo USA | hamilton small fries | The Giacomo HotelWhen we got our itinerary, we were pretty excited to be staying at the Giacomo Hotel. Not that Holiday Inns and Sheratons aren’t great hotels, but it was fun to stay in a boutique style hotel with it’s lavish rooms and interior design.

The biggest plus? The free buffet breakfast! It was one of the best hotel breakfasts we’ve ever had. The hotel also has an amazing observation space, not to mention complimentary valet for your car.

What We Saw

Silo City is a blast from the past! It’s one of the world’s largest grain elevator collections and serves as a reminder of the city’s industrial heritage. Over the years the “city” of silos has evolved into an unusual and popular gathering place for craft beer festivals, literary readings, flea markets and more – See more here.

While at Silo City, we had the opportunity to participate in an interactive play put on by Torn Space Theater, called ‘They Kill Things‘.  When we got to the performance, we were greeted by “The Villagers” – see picture below. We were asked to wear bandanas on our faces for the duration of the performance, and to refrain from speaking. (Two+ hours of silence for the Small Fries?! How?!)

After viewing a ritual style drum dance outside, we proceeded to break into groups and follow one of the “Villagers” on an tour throughout the Silo City. This performance definitely went over our heads (and we were both a bit scared to be honest), but the whole event helped us to appreciate the grandeur of the Silos. We’d love to visit again to hear more about the history and how the whole factory functioned….but that’s for another trip!

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Becker Farms – Becker Farms; a working fruit and veggie farm, farm market, winery, restaurant, brewery, and PETTING ZOO all in one. Now that’s our kind of place!

Becker Farms is a 5th Generation family owned, 100 year old, 340 acre farm. They have a strong focus on the field to table approach and harvest all of their own fruits and veggies to add to products like hand made pies, jams, cookies, cider, fudge and wines. For all of their catered events, they serve dishes made with produce picked right from the farm or brought in from within a 100 mile radius.

On our last day in NY, we headed to Becker Farms in Gasport for an afternoon of good food, live animals and amazing scenery. The staff was super friendly and welcoming and many people stopped through to sample their locally produced, hand crafted micro brews. A fun stop for any wine/beer tour! (Pie-lovers, add this to your ‘pie-tinerary’.)

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Marjim Manor – After Becker farms, we headed to Appleton, NY to check out the haunted winery that is Marjim Manor. The Manor was even featured on the show Ghost Hunters. We have yet to see the episode, but apparently the paranormal investigators found quite a lot of evidence!

Here we sampled 4 delicious wines (many named after the scary legend and an odd amount named after cats – hmm.), enjoyed a wine/lemonade slushie (Whoa! Delish.) and listened to the frightening legend that you can read here.

We can’t say we saw any ghosts, but it was certainly a fun stop for any tourist!

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Whirlpool Jet Boats – We were most nervous for this portion of the trip, but also the most excited. The Whirlpool Jet Boat was an exciting afternoon of crashing through waves and getting very, very wet. It was basically the equivalent to a really wild roller coaster – water version. Let’s just say, we should have worn waterproof makeup. 😉

We suggest this exhilarating activity for families and people of all ages!

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hamilton small fries | Niagara Whirlpool Jet Boat

What We Ate

Websters Bistro & Bar – In North Tonawanda is a quaint, french bistro with a menu full of fresh and delicious dishes. This was our very first stop on our trip, and definitely our favourite.

The wait staff was friendly, the food was mouthwatering and the ambiance was perfect for a girls night or for a date. If you’re ever in the area, this resto needs to be a stop on your list.

Literally every morsel that we tried at Websters Bistro and Bar, we loved.

Heather started out with the Coconut Shrimp and – like the carnivore she is – tried the 12oz Bone-in Pork Chop for the main. Both these dishes were something to write home about. 😉 A surprising tidbit though, Heather’s favourite part of the meal was the sweet potato gratin. Sweet, sweet maple and brown sugar flavour…*drool*

Lindsay tried the Beet Salad (her go-to dish) to start, and had the Duck Breast with Cherry Port Wine Sauce as an entree. Everything was cooked to perfection and had a perfect balance of sweet and savoury.

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Becker Farms Brewery Brunch – While at Becker Farms, we stopped into their restaurant/cider bar for an all you can eat brunch. Believe us when we say that this all-you-can-eat brunch is way more extensive than your usual breakfast joint.

For $14 you can have your pick; everything from their toast bar, and classic breakfast fare to sirloin shepherds pie, pizza, scalloped potatoes and fried chicken. There was also made-to-order breakfast sandwiches….but we were way too full by this point. Trust us when we say you will not go hungry at Becker Farms.

The cost of brunch also includes one of their specialty drinks. We tried the poinsettia – which was mixed drink of cranberry juice and made-in-house Becker cider. Yum!

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All in all, it was a fun-filled trip and we can’t wait for our next visit. Perhaps more touring of the Niagara Wine Trail is in order?

Thank you to Niagara USA Tourism for inviting us out! Much appreciated! xx

Where’s your favourite place to day-trip to from Hamilton? Let us know in the comments!

HSF Recap

Alright, we’ll admit to it. We have a bad habit of finishing posts close to completion, getting distracted by something sparkly, and then never coming back to the post. What can we say? There’s so much scrumptious food to choose from in Hamilton, it’s hard to stay focused on one restaurant for long. #SorryNotSorry

BUT we have some good news for you! We’re going to do some recap posts, so you can find out what the Small Fries have been up to the past few months. (We’ll give you a hint: it involves delicious local food! Would you expect anything less from us?!)

Stay tuned, guys. In the meantime, enjoy some #FoodPorn pics that we’ve taken over the last few months.

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Williams Fresh Cafe, Pier 8, Hamilton Ontario

 

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Viva Puffs – Cake & Loaf, Hamilton Ontario

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Sangria – Aberdeen Tavern, Hamilton Ontario

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Aberdeen Tavern, Hamilton Ontario

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Brussel Sprout Gratin – Aberdeen Tavern, Hamilton Ontario

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Bobs Mobile Mexican – Down by the Bay – Food Truck Event, Hamilton Ontario

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All Day Breakfast Plate – Auntie Booms Retro Cafe, Hamilton Ontario

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Corned Beef Sandwich – McCartney & Son, Hamilton Ontario – CLOSED, Now ‘Salt Lick Smokehouse’

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The Veg Sandwich – McCartney & Son, Hamilton Ontario – CLOSED, Now ‘Salt Lick Smokehouse’

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Calamari – Cafe 59, Buffalo NY, Allentown

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Turkey Burgunday Sandwich – Cafe 59, Buffalo NY, Allentown

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Beans & Rice with Fried Plantains – Cafe 59, Buffalo NY, Allentown

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Mini Fish & Chips with House Tartar – Samuel Adams Social, Radius Restaurant, Hamilton Ontario

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Mozzarella Sticks with Nonna’s Gravy – Samuel Adams Social, Radius Restaurant, Hamilton Ontario


If you have questions about the photos, please post them in the comments below!

Where to go…in Buffalo!

Did you see what we did there?

We could get even more cheesy and keep rhyming but we will leave that for the Holiday Hallmark commercials.

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In October, Hamilton Small Fries had the AMAZING opportunity to check out the city of Buffalo. We ate delicious food, visited amazing places and of course – you know we did some serious shopping.

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Because of our extensive visit we are splitting this into two blog posts this week! Where to Go and Where to Eat!

Both of us had been to Buffalo before but only ever to go to the mall or to use the airport, so we were very excited to explore this city and see what it had to offer. And BOY were we excited!

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We love the name Buffalo – because well, we love chicken. But while gallivanting around the city, we came up with a new name for our new favourite US city – the American #HamOnt.

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That’s right proud Hamiltonians – Buffalo is our home away from home. The love of local food, architecture and community is evident in this border city. And we love that sort of enthusiasm and pride!

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Okay so where did we visit during our 2 day stay? Check it.

Albright–Knox Art Gallery

The Hamilton Small Fries are experienced in the art of eating. But we were excited to check out this contemporary and modern art gallery!

11GalleryThe Albright-Knox Art Gallery is described as a hub of artistic and cultural energies. And we agree! The art at this gallery literally jumped off the walls. The energy and liveliness of these pieces were evident.

Since its inception as The Buffalo Fine Arts Academy in 1862, the museum has been dedicated to acquiring, exhibiting, and preserving modern and contemporary art, with a particular emphasis on the collection, presentation, and interpretation of the artistic expressions of our times.

A great stop on our tour!

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Darwin D Martin House

This was definitely one of our favourite places of the entire trip! We’re sure the Darwin D. Martin House is a must-see on any architect’s bucket list. Built by Frank Lloyd Wright in the early 1900s, it was abandoned for years and unfortunately fell into a state of disarray.

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In the 80s and 90s, the city of Buffalo listed the Martin House Complex as a National Historic Landmark and they have been restoring the home to it’s former glory!

Though some sections of the house are still undergoing restorations, most of the home and the main floor has been completed and it’s absolutely breath-taking. (Sorry guys, they don’t allow photos anywhere with a roof overtop, but trust us, it’s a must visit!)

Waterfront

Much like our city of #HamOnt, Buffalo is undergoing some revamping of their Waterfront! We went there on a chilly blustery day, but with lattes in hand it was still an amazing part of our trip.

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This city has created walking paths along the wide stretch of waterfront. We’re guessing that in the Summer this is a go-to hangout for locals and visitors alike!

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Shopping 

Sure, when many of us think of shopping in Buffalo, we think of Walden Galleria. Most Hamiltonians we know feel very strongly about shopping locally – though when we go over the border that often goes out the window and we end up at big box stores. Well we have good news for you, guys. Buffalo is jam-packed with fabulous independent shops where you can get all your Christmas shopping done!

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Our fave neighbourhoods for shopping included: Allentown and Elmwood Village. We like to imagine Allentown is a bit like James Street North (very hip with a focus on art) and Elmwood Village is a lot like Locke Street. Love it!

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What Buffalo wants you to know? That their renaissance is here to stay! (Whether or not they are the landscape for Frozen 2). If you haven’t seen Buffalo lately, you haven’t seen Buffalo. From hotels and historic buildings to the entire waterfront at Canalside, Buffalo is undergoing a dramatic transformation. A civic revival that some snow will simply not stop.

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Make your days merry and bright with a visit to Kleinhans Music Hall for their annual Holiday Pops concert, take in A Christmas Carol at Alleyway Theater or simply warm up over a cozy cup of hot cocoa at Sweetness_7 Cafe.

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Visit Buffalo – Frozen Parody!

We had the AMAZING opportunity to explore Buffalo a few weeks ago and we cannot wait to share our blog with you! Visit Buffalo invited your Hamilton Small Fries out to explore the food scene, shopping and amazing attractions!

This week we will be sharing two different blog posts – Where to Go and Where to Eat!

We loved Buffalo because we really saw it as the “American Hamilton!” The love of local was very evident to us during our 2 day stay. We enjoyed delicious food, AMAZING architecture and of course – shopping!

Our hearts go out to the families of New York that are experiencing some heavy snow. But don’t let that scare you away from this amazing city! They are loving the snow and so will you!

The Holiday Season is upon us so NOW is the time to head on over for Black Friday Sales and Holiday shopping!

In the meantime, check out this Frozen Parody! We know it will put a smile on your face #HamOnt.

Let it Snow – A Buffalo “Frozen” Parody is dedicated to the strong and resilient people of Buffalo and Western New York. We are #OneBuffalo. Concept and additional lyrics by Karen Healy. Vocals by Michele Marie Roberts. Produced by Visit Buffalo Niagara and Paget Films.