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).

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 2 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

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.

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 4 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

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.

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 7 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

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.

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 9 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

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

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 8 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

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

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 12 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

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.

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 13 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

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!

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 16 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

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.

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 15 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

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.

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 19 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

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.

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 18 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

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!

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 20 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

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.

hamilton small fries | Feast ON Culinary Crawl | Niagara Parks | Picture 17 | Hamilton, Ontario Day Trip

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.

 

 

Muskoka Brewery Tap To Table Event at The Ship

Muskoka Brewery’s Tap to Table Event

The Ship

Hamilton, Ontario 

hamilton small fries | Muskoka Brewery Tap to Table Event | The Ship | Hamilton, Ontario | Picture 2

If you were to think about food and drink pairing, we’d bet your first thought isn’t craft beer. (It’s wine, isn’t it?). Beer ends up just a grab and go drink, but it can be so much more! And with craft beer exploding through the province, it’s the perfect time to start exploring.

hamilton small fries | Muskoka Brewery Tap to Table Event | The Ship | Hamilton, Ontario | Picture 6

Recently we had the opportunity to attend Muskoka Brewery’s Tap-to-Table event at The Ship. Gary McMullan, the co-founder of the brewery started by telling his own story of how a pesky groundhog ended his dreams of a potential aircraft career, and how he instead ended up co-founding Muskoka Brewing in 1996.

hamilton small fries | Muskoka Brewery Tap to Table Event | The Ship | Hamilton, Ontario | Picture 3

Gary became our tour guide for this “off the beaten path” experience through brews and food.

hamilton small fries | Muskoka Brewery Tap to Table Event | The Ship | Hamilton, Ontario | Picture 5

First up was the Muskoka Brewery’s Summer Weiss, which was matched up with a similarly light Mini Grilled Perch Sandwich with Lemon Aioli. In making pairings of any sort, strength with strength is the key! The beer was that classic summer patio wheat beer. But you’ll never catch it with an orange slice. This is German-style, not American-style, so that means the undertones are more banana than citrus. The Perch Sandwich balanced fresh with fresh – but we would have preferred a more delicate bread to lighten up the dish.

hamilton small fries | Muskoka Brewery Tap to Table Event | The Ship | Hamilton, Ontario | Picture 7

Muskoka Brewery is known for their IPAs – that would be India Pale Ale – so we got a little history lesson from Gary. The ‘India’ part comes from their ability to travel well to that country from the UK. . . though they were never specifically brewed for that purpose.

hamilton small fries | Muskoka Brewery Tap to Table Event | The Ship | Hamilton, Ontario | Picture 4

Detour was the first of the IPAs in our roster, and it’s known as “sessionable”. Even Jessica, an avowed disliker of bitter IPAs, liked this one. Lower in bitterness than many, Gary described it as being made like a ‘hop tea’, which certainly appealed to us. Detour was matched with Corn Breaded Shrimp Pogos with Honey Hop Mustard. Think classic carnival fair with high end seafood. Delish. Where is this on the regular menu for The Ship!?

hamilton small fries | Muskoka Brewery Tap to Table Event | The Ship | Hamilton, Ontario | Picture 8

Our third course featured Muskoka Cream Ale, a classic British style pale, which Jessica, for one, could drink all night. Less hop-focused, more malty, and what Gary described as “biscuity”, which is a particularly endearing (yet accurate) description. The food match was a Southern Picnic Beef Slider topped with Jalapenos and a spicy chipotle (?) sauce.  The burger was juicy, spicy and absolutely delicious, though we thought the spice was a bit too much for a match with the Muskoka Cream Ale. But hey, we aren’t the experts!

hamilton small fries | Muskoka Brewery Tap to Table Event | The Ship | Hamilton, Ontario | Picture 10

And then we dove right back into the India Pale Ale. The fourth course featured Twice as Mad Tom IPA, higher in alcohol content and hoppiness than the rest. Spicy! It was paired with Ribs braised in its own Twice as Mad Tom BBQ sauce, which really brought the flavours together, even if we found the brew a bit too bitter for our liking. But as the slogan for this beer says… “Not for everyone.”. Heather, who is a huge meat and potatoes fan, absolutely loved this dish. The ribs and chips were cooked to perfection and had the perfect amount of sauce.

hamilton small fries | Muskoka Brewery Tap to Table Event | The Ship | Hamilton, Ontario | Picture 11

The last of the bunch, though possibly the favourite at the table, was dessert! The Mad Tom IPA (less “mad” – i.e. hoppy and strong – than the last one), may sound like a strange dessert pairing, but it worked. Dessert was S’mores doused in a Mad Tom Chocolate Ganache. Jessica learned that perhaps she enjoys the hops…. when paired with chocolate. Yum yum!

hamilton small fries | Muskoka Brewery Tap to Table Event | The Ship | Hamilton, Ontario | Picture 12

Have you tried any of Muskoka Brewery’s brews? Which one was your favourite?

hamilton small fries | Muskoka Brewery Tap to Table Event | The Ship | Hamilton, Ontario | Picture 9

GJessica Peter - Guest Writeruest contributor: Jessica Peter is a graduate student, tea seller, and rabid #HamOnt fan. She has a passion for local shows, local food, and writing kind of strange novels in her spare time. Oh, and she’ll try any craft beer she can get her hands on.

Event: Supercrawl 2013

Though Supercrawl 2013 may be over, the memories still live on for Hamiltonians.

hamilton small fries | Hamilton Supercrawl 2013 | Picture 1

We attended the event this past weekend (as did an estimated 100,000 other people!) and enjoyed the sights, sounds, smells and – of course – tastes Supercrawl had to offer.

hamilton small fries | Hamilton Supercrawl 2013 | Picture 2

Being the foodies that we are, we gravitated towards the brick and mortar restaurants, food trucks and food stands. Now don’t think we didn’t enjoy the art .. we certainly did with our bellies full. But what really caught our eyes were some art and food collaborations. Check out some of our favourites;

– Anneka’s ‘People Eating Food’ paintings (See more of Anneka’s work HERE.)

hamilton small fries | Hamilton Supercrawl 2013 | Picture 6

– Laura Hutchings’ ‘Keep Calm & Eat Bacon’ buttons and “Kissing you is better than bacon (and bacon is delicious)” Cards (See more of Laura’s work HERE.)

hamilton small fries | Hamilton Supercrawl 2013 | Picture 3

hamilton small fries | Hamilton Supercrawl 2013 | Picture 4

– Hotti Biscotti’s decorated Peanut Butter Pops. How could anyone say this isn’t art?! Beautiful AND delicious!(See more Hotti Biscotti products HERE.)

hamilton small fries | Hamilton Supercrawl 2013 | Picture 5

 Until next year, Supercrawl!

hamilton small fries | Hamilton Supercrawl 2013 | Picture 7

hamilton small fries | Hamilton Supercrawl 2013 | Picture 8

Did you attend Supercrawl 2013? What was your favourite part?