To most people, January is known for its long nights, frigid cold temps, and snow up to your knees. Trust me, it’s hard to want to leave the house under those conditions, but as a fun-loving family, we’re always looking for something to “do” rather than staying cooped up inside. January is the perfect time to visit a brewery, eat at a FeastON restaurant, peruse a local shop, or take in a food festival! Eating, drinking and enjoying local can happen all year long!
Lucky for me (and my family), the London Wine & Food Show was in town this past weekend and we seized the opportunity to attend and celebrate a birthday. If you’ve never been to the London Wine & Food Show it’s a must! I can say, having attended many, many shows over the years, it’s one of my favourites! With plenty to sip and snack on, we never stopped asking,“what should we try next?” Every aisle was filled with phenomenal local treats, refreshing beverages, and enthusiastic owners, staff and family! You can tell these people are passionate about what they do and are thrilled to represent their creations in their booth!
After a day of sampling, some of the products really stood out! I came away with a few highlights and I really can’t get enough. Thank goodness I brought product home to enjoy long after the doors closed at the show. See some of my favourites below and consider checking out some of these all-Ontario bites.
Norfolk’s Blueberry Hill Estates sampled wines, while showing off their beautiful display of market preserves. Jam’s, salsa’s and pickled vegetables were being admired by the crowds, with their Dilly Beans proving to be a hit. My favourite? Their maraschino cherries, made with only 3 ingredients, are the perfect addition to homemade Old Fashioned cocktails.
Monro Honey, of Alvinston, Ontario, was busy sampling their mead and honey products. With a vast line of products, including chocolate honey, jalapeño honey and honey butter, it was hard to pick a favourite, but of course I did! Their Honey Butter with Cinnamon was a bee-utiful treat that would be perfect for pastries, bagels, muffins, or enjoyed right off of a spoon.
Located in the iconic Winderemere Manor, London’s Restaurant Ninety One was on site sharing a beautiful example of what their team can do. Their Red Beet Carpaccio was a stunning dish made with local beets, mushroom marmalade and whipped chevre.
Red’s Smokehouse Meats makes artisan salami, pepperettes and jerky outside of Strathroy, Ontario. Happy to share samples of their meats, the team had me coming back with someone new by my side each time to give the meats a try. I left the show with their Hot Montreal Smoke Meat Salami, Jalepeño Bell Pepper Salami and Mennonite Summer Salami in hand. They assured me that they’d last 6 months, though I’m not convinced they’ll last 6 days. It’s the perfect weeknight snack alongside your favourite local cheese.
Where there’s good food, you find tasty drinks and that was certainly the case at the London Food & Wine Show. With new craft operations opening at a rapid rate across this province, Ontario’s small-batch drink scene is an exciting one to watch. Sampling our way through the show, our group came away with a favourite in each drink category; wine, spirits and beer.
The Estate Peach wine from Beamsville, Ontario’s Cornerstone Estate Winery was a real hit with our group! The vibrant fruity flavours seemed to be exactly what everyone was craving on a sunny Saturday.
Distilling small-batch premium spirits, Wolfhead Distillery in Amherstburg, Ontario is the first craft distiller in Essex County. With a variety of whisky and vodka flavours, there’s something for everyone. The Wolfhead Banana Caramel Vodka, paired perfectly with citrus soda, had the nostalgic flavour of a banana popsicle!
Located on a blueberry farm outside of Langton, Ontario, Hometown Brewing Company is a family run operation that also grows its own hops! Their lineup includes the flagship Blueberry Saison, a Southern Ale, a Southern Ale Light and, my personal pick, an IPA with Apricot.
Agri-tourism is a trend I can get on board with! It seems that I’m not alone, since shuttle tours and bike tours keep popping up across the province.
At the Creemore Springs booth, they were promoting their Turas Mor, a bike journey through the rolling hills of Creemore, filled with food and drink.
Just 20 minutes from Leamington, Farm Dog Cycles offers fully-guided bike tours, or self-guided tour options visiting area vineyards. Sip, savour and soak up the sun as you pedal along with this fun group.
Take on the #BarrelTrail with an app-guided tour of Windsor Essex. With 12+ stops (who know?!) on the Barrels, Bottles & Brews tour, the virtual passport may take some time to fill. But, once you do, a free tour t-shirt is all yours, plus a chance to win an Ultimate Brewery Experience.