Holiday Entertaining

Happy New Year!

Well, my food-loving friends… the Holidays have come and gone. I was so blessed this year to spend lots of time with family & friends, which in my world also means…food events!

I’m going to share a couple of my favourite things I enjoyed over the Holidays. Consider these as some ideas for future entertaining! I know I will.

Cheese

What’s a holiday party without a cheese tray? Still a Holiday party…but a more…lame version….

Okay bad joke.

What i’m really trying to say is If you don’t have a cheese platter at your party, please don’t expect me to come….

Okay, maybe a bit harsh.

Just make a cheese tray for cripe sakes. Udder Way Artisan Cheese can help you out.

Udder Way Artisan Cheese Co Hamilton Ontario Hamilton Small Fries Food Reviews
A couple weeks ago I was invited out to check out the new factory of Udder Way Artisan Cheese.

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Tor Krueger, co-owner of Cheese Shoppe on Locke, opened this new venture in the old Gos and Gris factory on the Stoney Creek Mountain (380 Highway 20 East).

It’s a new space for him to make artisan cheeses (including their specialty, Snow Peak Goat Cheese Pyramids).

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At Udder Way, you can expect to find a gift shop/cheese store (think compact version of Cheese Shoppe on Locke), plus a small factory where you can get local, freshly-made delicious cheese.

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I picked up some Snow Peak Goat Cheese (Udder Way) and Jalapeno Cheddar (Blyth’s)- I’d recommend both! They’re at either ends of the cheese spectrum (honestly, I just made this up) which makes them ideal for creating a balanced cheese tray (true though).

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Turducken

Echelon Foods was kind enough to reach out and contact me to see if I would be willing to try out their Turducken. Seriously, if there’s meat involved, you don’t even need to ask. I was finally able to check this bad boy off of my foodie bucket list.

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If you’ve never heard of a Turducken – you are missing out. It’s a large-size turkey, deboned and stuffed with chicken, duck, and stuffing. Meaty, meaty goodness.

Echelon makes an Original Turducken with Chicken Apple Stuffing or Italian Sausage Stuffing, a Premium Turducken (no drumsticks or wings, just the roast) with stuffing and – get this – a Bacon Wrapped Turducken! As much as I would have loved to try the Bacon-Wrapped version, my family is not as meat-crazy as I am (boo-urns), so we went with the Original Turducken.

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I ordered it online, easy peasy. It came within 3 business days…just in time for Christmas Eve! There was literally no prep on this. It just needed to be defrosted over 24 hours, then it was plopped into a roaster and was good to go.

This was the best-looking roast I have ever made. And it tasted perfect. Thanks Echelon Foods for making me look like a Food Network superstar in front of all my fam. *flips hair*

Crantini Jelly

Now, the Turducken was already beautifully flavoured (especially the stuffing), but I’m a creative lass and can’t help putting my own spin on things. SO I picked up some Wandering Locavore Crantini Jelly from my workplace, Christy’s Gourmet Gifts.

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You can have the Crantini Jelly just on it’s own with crackers, but I ended up mixing it up with some olive oil and basting the Turducken with it. I mixed cranberries with root veggies and roasted them around the Turducken. It gave great additional flavour to this already mouth-watering meal.

Now that all the Holiday entertaining is over, we can move on to think about the new year – 2016!! 2015 was my best foodie year yet, and I expect 2016 to be even better!

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Do you have a food goal for 2016? Perhaps to experiment with a new recipe ingredient or try a new restaurant?

Please share it in the comments below – I’d love to hear from you! 

Open House & Bash in the Brewery

Attention #HamOnt Craft Beer lovers! This is an event you won’t want to miss.

Where: Nickelbrook And Collective Arts Brewery – 207 Burlington Street East, Hamilton, ON

 Collective Arts and Nickelbrook Brewery Hamilton Ontario

DAY EVENT: BREWERY OPEN HOUSE, NOON – 4PM
Craft beer lovers and curious neighbours alike are invited to come down to the brewery to enjoy some quality beer, art and music, and delicious fare from Hamilton’s finest food trucks/restaurants. Plus tours!! Also featured? A special collaboration beer between the two brewers! To sample their 13 different brews, they’re offering logo glassware + 4 tokens for $10 upon entry. Patrons can also buy tokens for individual $2 or $4 pours.
Bands: Bravestation / Sarah Burton / The Knads /  DJ: DIGITS
Admission: FREE

NIGHT EVENT: BASH IN BREWERY, 7PM – MIDNIGHT
Later on that evening, they’re throwing a party with an AWESOME musical lineup and more good craft beer.
Bands: HOLLERADO / ZEUS WTCHS / DJ: DIGITS
Admission: $20* / [30* at the door] 19+ / *HST and handling charges are additional

To purchase tickets to both events, visit www.collectiveartsbrewing.com/tickets 
Due to capacity restrictions, those interested in attending the Open House portion are encouraged to secure their spot with free tickets for entrance.

#STEELISTHENEWBEER

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!