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Ah, sweetest taste of Spring – Fresh Maple Syrup!

7 Apr

by Diva Karen
Saturday was the perfect day to take a trip ’round Huron County to pick up some fresh, organic maple syrup.  I visited Robinson’s Maple Products in St. Augustine and learned all about modern maple syrup production.  With 20,000 trees in five separate bushes, Bill and Susanne have built a business that provides fresh organic products not only to much of southwestern Ontario, but also to a large market in Japan and emerging markets in China and the Ukraine.

Read the full story at HERE at

This equipment, called a PIG (it looks like one, eh?) churns thickened syrup for smooth creamy maple butter.

This equipment, called a PIG (it looks like one, eh?) churns thickened syrup for smooth creamy maple butter.

Saps contains 2% sugar,  After processing through this Reverse Osmosis System it's at 16%.

Saps contains 2% sugar, After processing through this Reverse Osmosis System it’s at 16%.

Holding tank on the second floor for the 16% concentrate … will flow down to the evaporator

Holding tank on the second floor for the 16% concentrate … will flow down to the evaporator

Evaporator on the left side uses steam coils to boil down the sap to 66.5 degrees Brix*

Evaporator on the left side uses steam coils to boil down the sap to 66.5 degrees Brix*

This filtering system removes the impurities

This filtering system removes the impurities

Dinner on Saturday night included Tangy Maple Meatballs – a recipe that Suzanne shared with us.

Tangy Maple Meatballs (Recipe below)

Tangy Maple Meatballs (Recipe below)

Robinson Maple Products
84548 St. Augustine Line
Auburn, ON  N0M 1E0
Phone:  519-527-7857


1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 egg
2 tbsp dried parsley flakes
1 tsp Worchestershire Sauce
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper

Preheat oven to 350.  Combined above ingredients and form into 1 1/2″ balls.  Please in 8″ square pan, bake for 20 minutes.

1 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp dry mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp vinegar
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1/4 c water

Combine cornstarch, mustard and salt in small saucepan.  Gradually stir in vinegar, maple syrup and water.  Cook and stir over medium heat until thickened and bubbly.  Drain fat from the meatballs, pour sauce over meatballs.  Bake 20 minutes.


While the Robinson’s operation is automated – sap is suctioned via vacuum on those blue plastic lines strung through the bush the local Amish were tapping trees along the roadside and rather than the traditional pails (shown in last year’s story HERE), they’re using Wine Skins as shown in the photo below.

Amish in the area are using WineSkins for sap collection.

Amish in the area are using WineSkins for sap collection.


*Degrees Brix (symbol °Bx) is the sugar content of an aqueous solution.  One degree Brix is 1 gram of sucrose in 100 grams of solution  and represents the strength of the solution as percentage by weight (% w/w). If the solution contains dissolved solids other than pure sucrose, then the °Bx only approximates the dissolved solid content.

Olympic Fever at the Albion

26 Feb
The Albion is a popular spot for snowmobilers.

The Albion is a popular spot for snowmobilers.

by Diva Trista Russell
February has been a great month for getting cozy on the couch and watching some television…especially when the Winter Olympics were on! While I was in Bayfield staying at the Little Inn during the Family Day long weekend, I headed down the street to watch the Canada vs. Finland hockey game in the pub at The Albion Hotel.

Not surprisingly, there were lots of hockey fans cheering on the Canadian team, and servers were even dressed in red and white jerseys. It was a sunny winter’s day, so of course there were lots of snowmobilers stopped there too. Every Tuesday, they have great specials and prizes for snowmobilers, which includes $2 tacos or sliders and chili dogs for $5.95!

The Albion has huge murals painted on the walls along with some displays of sports memorabilia. The interior looked different from the last time I was last there, but I love how the decor provides a relaxed and cozy vibe.

Olympic fever has hit the Albion!

Olympic fever has hit the Albion!

For those that enjoy fish and chips, when I went they had a $12 two-piece fish and chips special. I enjoyed the “Nachos Supreme” and a beverage, which definitely hit the spot!

The Albion has a great atmosphere for watching sports, especially the Olympics. You can see how proud everyone is of the Canadian team when the pub erupts with cheers. Go Canada Go!

The Albion Hotel
1 Main Street, Bayfield
Phone: 519-565-2641 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting
The Albion is on Facebook!

My hockey watching menu: “Nachos Supreme” with ground beef

My hockey watching menu: “Nachos Supreme” with ground beef

Watching the Olympic hockey game at the Albion

Watching the Olympic hockey game at the Albion

Murals and sports memorabilia adorn the walls

Murals and sports memorabilia adorn the walls

Audrey’s Feast

30 Sep

IMG_4008by Diva Trista Russell

I have to admit that when I heard about this event, I had no idea who Audrey was. But after attending Audrey’s Feast, it appears that Audrey was wonderful inspiration to our community, and especially the Farmers’ Market in my hometown of Exeter. Unfortunately, she recently passed away, but it was evident from the kind words spoken throughout the night that her inspiration still lives on.

Audrey’s Feast was a long-table style dinner that was held in a tent right beside Main Street in Exeter. Audrey’s Feast was inspired by Audrey McFalls, who saw similar events celebrating local food held in neighbouring regions and wanted to bring it to Exeter. The proceeds from the Feast went to the Huron County Food Bank Distribution Centre and the Exeter Farmers’ Market. The servers throughout the night were all vendors from the Farmers’ Market. Dinner was catered by Devin Tabor of Bon Vivant Personal Chef Service, and live music by Devon Martene and Jon Gill.

The delicious dinner started off with an amuse-bouche (bite size appetizer) of smoked Lake Huron fish, mixed greens with roasted beets, and roasted sweet potato soup. For the main course, there was roast beef with gravy and horseradish cream sauce, and honey dijon roast chicken. This was accompanied with a medley of veggies, smashed potato with roasted garlic, and fresh rolls with seasoned butter. The dessert was an an apple crumble with fresh raspberries, chantilly cream and mint. Yum!

IMG_4009The dinner featured items from Barrking Hill FarmBayfield Berry FarmCedar Villa Angus FarmsFirmly Rooted FarmGood Luck GardensMcClymont Century OrchardSheldon Berries, The Home Farm, and Cudmore Farm.

Guest speaker for the evening was Andrew Fleet, who is Director of Growing Chefs! Ontario, a non-profit organization based in London that unites chefs, growers, educators and community members to help get kids excited about how to grow and prepare healthy food. One of the programs Growing Chefs! Ontario offers is called “Fresh Food Frenzy” which takes school kids to a local farmers’ market and then prepare a meal using market ingredients.

He also spoke about how we need to change how the way we look at food, as often we look at eating as an inconvenience in our busy day. He said that Europeans, especially Italians, have it right: they look at food and eating as a priority, and fit the other things in life around food.

I hope this event happens again next year!


Each diner got to take home a package from Egg Farmers Ontario, including a handy microwave egg cooker.


I was one of the lucky winners who got to take home a beautiful centrepiece of fresh cut flowers from Cudmore Farms!


Some wonderful ladies from London that I met at Audrey’s Feast. Hope you enjoyed the evening!


A sample of the items you can purchase at the Exeter Farmers’ Market.

European ambiance at the ArtSee Café

27 Sep

by Diva Susan Pye

One recent Friday evening I was standing under the porch of the new public library in Bayfied (a great community resource and meeting place!), watching a very loud  thunderstorm blowing down Main Street and wondering why I had ventured out at all.  I had my answer as soon as I dashed across the road and entered the ArtSee Café to be greeted by the wonderful aroma of various tasty dinners being prepared by Chef (and owner) Guy Spence and the other kitchen wizards at work.

ArtSee is a little restaurant/café tucked into a European, or perhaps New Orleans style, alley and courtyard midway down Main Street on the south side of the street. Small trees, shrubs, grasses and flowers around the alley and little courtyard add to the Euro ambiance.

Friday night is French Bistro night, as is Saturday on long weekends, with the last Friday night French Bistro occurring October 11 (please see the ArtSee Café web site for details on schedule, reservations, and menus; the Café continues to be open on weekends through to November 10 with various special menus planned).  The friendly wait staff (including Guy’s daughter Anita who moonlights as a teacher in London during the week) helped make our dinner decisions, which was tough because everything sounded delicious and looked amazing as the various dishes passed our table to other diners.  We were fortunate enough to benefit from the usual Friday night bistro dinner as well as Lobster Fest option. While I dined on lobster salad and a exceptionally tasty pasta  (little pockets of black truffles with pieces of lobster in sauce), my husband enjoyed the French onion soup (traditional and delicious, not too  gooey as so often can be the case) and a  tender beef filet with béarnaise sauce (who doesn’t love béarnaise sauce?).  While we probably shouldn’t have, we shared a home made cheesecake for dessert, which was exactly what a cheesecake should be (again, not too gooey).

When we rolled out of the Café into the warm autumn evening on the charming Main Street of Bayfield, we were very, very happy. A wonderful way to start the weekend! Thank you Guy and kitchen wizards, and of course Anita and wait staff!

ArtSee Café & Bistro
19 Main Street
Bayfield Ontario Canada

It was the Schnitz!

4 Sep
Food stations offered numerous options for each course.

Food stations offered numerous options for each course.

By Diva Trista Russell

Ontario’s West Coast is home to loads of produce growers and meat suppliers, many of which are located right in our own area. The aim of Taste of Huron’s “Food for Thought” Dinners is to celebrate just that: we truly live in the “bread basket” of Ontario!

Last Monday I was treated to a delicious Taste of Huron dinner called “It’s the Schnitz” at Hessenland Country Inn in St. Joesph. For $50 a person, it included wonderful grazing style dinner with bite size samplings of salads and soup, many different types of schnitzel, side dishes, dessert, and also one drink ticket. Various dining stations were set up outside in Hessenland’s beautiful gardens and in their Garden Room. To top it off, Diva Karen and I, along with our guests, had a lovely table right by the window overlooking the pool and gardens while the sun was setting over Lake Huron. I can definitely see why Hessenland is a popular choice for special events, especially weddings.

Hessenland proudly showed of its German roots (ancestry I distantly share as well) by showcasing a variety of schnitzel including pork, turkey, chicken, fish, and wiener schnitzel. Just to make your mouth water even more, here’s part of the menu:

IMG_3954 IMG_3955Salads/Soups

  • Frank’s Corn Chowder
  • Shredded Carrots and Bell Peppers tossed with a Dijon Maple Dressing
  • Yellow and Green Beans tossed with Garlic Scape Pesto Dressing
  • Sweet Corn Kernels tossed with Chili Dressing
  • Garden Greens tossed with Cantaloupe Balsamic Dressing

IMG_3957 IMG_3958

Desserts were delicious!

Desserts were delicious!


  • Fresh Strawberries with Zabaglione
  • Creamy Strawberry Sorbet with Orange Mint
  • Field Melon Salsa
  • Individual Peach Crumble

Most of the ingredients came from local suppliers, including: Metzger Meat Products, Hayter’s Turkey Farm, Masse Farm, Ferguson Apiaries, Poganatz Family Bakery, Purdy’s Fisheries, and The Garlic Box. Chef Frank Ihrig even made a last minute addition to the menu with some beets he got from a neighbour. I think the favourite of the night for me was the peach crumble. As Chef Frank mentioned in his opening speech, peaches are very tender and juicy this year.

IMG_3956If you missed this dinner but would like to attend another one, you’re not too late! The next Food for Thought Dinner called “This Little Piggy Went to Pisa” (featuring heritage pork) will be held on Tuesday, September 17th at Samuel’s Boutique Hotel north of Goderich.

For more info:

Great Food, Good Times at Paddy O’Neil’s

19 Aug

Paddy O'Neilsby Diva Trista Russell

On my way up to Goderich to check out Behind the Bars (see my last post), I stopped at Paddy O’Neil’s on The Square in Goderich for some dinner. O’Neil’s is part of the Hotel Bedford which is the only hotel right on The Square. O’Neil’s has a variety of food, ranging from fresh local fish and pastas to chicken wings. I tried the breaded pickerel ($18.89) which came with your choice of potato and steamed veggies. Very tasty! The service was excellent too. The main dining room was pretty full on a Thursday evening, so I sat on the patio which had a nice view of the Courthouse. Afterwards, I walked around The Square to see the improvements Goderich has made.

IMG-20130808-00218After touring Behind the Bars, I headed down to Goderich’s main beach to catch the sunset. I’ve heard that Goderich’s sunsets are rated as some of the best in the world. Such a beautiful view!

Paddy O’Neil’s Restaurant
92 Courthouse Square
Goderich, Ontario
Phone: 519-524-7337

Paddy O'Neil's IMG-20130808-00221 Paddy O'Neil's, Goderich Sunset on Lake Huron

Clinton’s Trial Farmer’s Market Deemed a Success

15 Aug

P1020268by Diva Karen Stewart
Clinton & Central Huron BIA has a trial Summer Market operating Wednesdays until September 4 from 8am to 2pm at the Library Park.   “Originally planned to close on August 14th, the market was extended a couple of weeks as this season’s unique weather sees produce maturing later than is typical here,” says Co-ordinator Sandy Garnet. “Downtown businesses report increased traffic and there’s a strong desire from our merchants to expand the season in 2014.”

There are vendors who sell fresh meats, fresh baked goods (including gluten free), cheese, maple syrup and honey, farm fresh eggs, as well as home made crafts and one of a kind items. The main feature, however, is the farmers and their fresh picked fruits and vegetables.   Averaging ten vendors each week, the market can easily accommodate up to 20 and hopes to encourage more vendors from Central Huron.

Check out some of the local flavour featured at the Farmers’ Market.  And, if you’re gluten free check out the Almond White Chocolate Coconut Squares from Humble Roots Bakery – I can vouch for them … they are quite tasty.


The Market is located 27 Albert Street, Clinton, Ontario N0M 1L0
Wednesday 8am – 2pm, until September 4th


Sandy Garnet, Made in Huron, 519-525-0671 (Made in Huron on Facebook)
Nina,  ReLook Nook, 519-606-4001  (Re-Look Nook on Facebook)

4 year old Landin Carter

4 year old Landin Carter

Gluten Free, Lactose Free and reduced sugar baking from Humble Roots Bakery in Milverton.

Gluten Free, Lactose Free and reduced sugar baking from Humble Roots Bakery in Milverton.


Ross Dobie of Auburn sold frozen meats and fresh vegetables for a Hurno County-based Mennonite friend. Ross Dobie of Auburn sold frozen meats and fresh vegetables for a Hurno County-based Mennonite friend.

Pauleen Kerkhof, a local Epicure consultant is a regular vendor at the Market.

Pauleen Kerkhof, a local Epicure consultant is a regular vendor at the Market.

Bachelicious Brown Bag Lunch

25 Jul
Tasty take-out lunches from Eddington's of Exeter

Tasty take-out lunches from Eddington’s of Exeter

by Diva Trista Russell

As I mentioned in my last post, the Bach Music Festival also featured free lunchtime concerts last week at the Trivitt Memorial Anglican Church in Exeter. As well, eight local restaurants offered take-out lunch specials to enjoy during the concert. I pre-booked take-out lunches for my Mom and I from Eddington’s the day before and picked it up shortly before noon last Friday. Eddington’s had a $10 lunch special which included a sandwich, fresh cut veggies and dip, cookies, and a drink. I had the turkey and brie sandwich with cranberry aioli, and my Mom had the smoked salmon and cucumber rye sandwich with cream cheese and fresh dill. Both lunches definitely hit the spot on a very hot summer day!

It did feel a little odd eating lunch in the church sanctuary, but many others of all ages were quietly enjoying their lunch while listening to the free concert. The Friday concert was titled “Fields of Gold” and featured local music graduates Melissa Bakelaar Van Rootselaar (flute), Aaron Neeb (horn), Katherine Napiwotski (vocal), and Michelle Roy (trombone). It was evident from listening to the 45 minute concert that we have lots of young musical talent from Huron County! The concert was an enjoyable way to spend a noon-hour in the summer and nice way break from my usual lunch-time routine.


Fresh Red Berries at Bayfield Berry Farm

21 Jul
Fresh red currants

Fresh red currants – $4.50/quart at the Bayfield Berry Farm

by Diva Karen

Red Currants are small bright red berries with a juicy pulp.  I haven’t enjoyed them for a number of years so when I found them at the Bayfield Berry Farm on Saturday I got to thinking about my grandmother as she always had currants in her garden.  (Bayfield Berry Farm also had fresh gooseberries for sale and my grandmother made gooseberry pie too).

I find red currants to have quite a tart flavour, so don’t care so much for them fresh although many people enjoy them in salads.  I decided to try a new recipe – a chutney with apples and raisins.  I’m sure this will be delicious with fresh fish or pork.

red currants, apple, onion, sugar and vinegar

red currants, apple, onion, sugar and vinegar


3lbs red currants (cleaning them was not a fast task!  reminds me of cleaning elderberries)
1 small onion – chopped small
2 cooking apples – chopped small
1.5 cups of sugar
2 cups red wine (or distilled) vinegar
Cook the above slowly until it comes to a boil and thickens … it took well over an hour.

Add 1 cup of raisins 5 minutes before end of cooking.
Bottle in sterilized jars.

Store in a cool place.  Best after 1 – 3 months.  “Shelf” life of 1 year.

_ _ _

Raisins were added just before bottling ... Nice red colour of this Currant Chutney will look great on the plate.

Raisins were added just before bottling … Nice red colour of this Currant Chutney will look great on the plate.

Fresh raspberries have a hollow centre and a slightly seedy texture ... delicious raw with whipped cream, or ice cream, cooked in jams, jellies or pies.  A great summer treat!

Fresh raspberries have a hollow centre and a slightly seedy texture … delicious raw with whipped cream, or ice cream, cooked in jams, jellies or pies. A great summer treat!

Red Raspberries are my favourite berry, and today at the Bayfield Berry Farm they were ready for picking.  The vines were laden with bright red large berries and picking was much easier than I remember as the vines didn’t seem to be as prickly as they used to be.  I’ve already enjoyed a bowl of berries with whipped cream and chocolate cake, made a batch of freezer jam to enjoy on fresh tea biscuits or toast for breakfast, and tomorrow I’m making a raspberry custard pie to share with my parents at dinner  … so easy and delicious!

Raspberries are available for $4.50 a pint or approximately 1/2 that if you pick your own.

Bayfield Berry Farm
77697 Orchard Line, Clinton, ON (Near Bayfield)
(519) 482-1666

Park House Perfect on a Summer Friday afternoon

19 Jul

by Diva Karen


the view of the Lake was spectacular

I had a few errands to run in Goderich this afternoon so could not miss an opportunity to visit the main beach and have dinner on the patio at the Park House.  This is one of my favourite pubs in Goderich as it has good food, a casual and friendly atmosphere, and a wonderful view of the lake – no matter what time of year.  I often catch the sunset, but today I was there much too early.

As the storm came in over the lake, my sister and I stood on the banks of Lake Huron and enjoyed the view.   It was a very windy day so the dark clouds rolled by swiftly, the sharp bolts of summer lighting dashed through the sky and thunder rumbled overhead.  We just made it back to the car when the rain came.  A torrential down-pour lasted just a few minutes and then the sun came out so we headed to the Park House for dinner.

The Park House offers great pub food – appetizers and salads, wings, ribs, pastas and fresh fish.  My sister, Sherry, enjoyed the yellow fish and I enjoyed the ribs and wing combo – both were specials on the menu this evening. Fresh from the waters yellow fish are mild & sweet tasting with delicious white, flaky fillets. Dinner included five fillets, deep fried, served with fresh-cut fries.  Meaty, tender barbeque ribs and honey garlic wings were perfect fare with an ice-cold beer on a Friday afternoon.  The wings were especially good as the coating was different than any pub wings I’ve enjoyed before – I can only describe them as flaky which I realize might be an odd description of a deep-fried batter.  Caesar salads were served with both dinners as were a potato or rice.  Sherry had fresh cut fries with the fish while I enjoyed a baked potato with butter and sour cream.  The price was just $17.99 each.

Matthew Hussey on the piano

Matthew Hussey on the piano

As an added bonus, Matthew Hussey – on the piano – provided wonderful easy-listening music in the background that really added to this evening’s dining experience at the Parkhouse.

History outlined on the Restaurant’s web site ( tells us that this historical building is one of Huron County’s oldest structures, built in the late 1830’s. Thomas Mercer Jones, the first Commissioner of the Canada Company and his wife moved to Goderich in 1843 and lived in this Georgian-style home, which was once referred to as “The Castle” as a home, it was the centre of lavish dinner parties, balls and garden parties, as the garden beds and spacious lawns were said to be a sight to behold. An impressive residence with 10 magnificent fireplaces – some constructed from imported Italian marble – that heated many bedrooms and drawing rooms. In 1895 an agreement was signed by the Canada Company to sell four of the lots which comprised the company’s property, including the home. The gracious home of Mr. and Mrs. Jones became a railroad hotel, known as Maitland House. On December 9, 1945 a fire destroyed the roof and top floor of the hotel which was then rebuilt with a flat roof.  In the spring of 1976 the hotel was purchased and renamed the Harbour Park Inn. It is the oldest building standing in Goderich today, a reminder of the vision of the men of the Canada Company and the early settlers of Huron County. Over the years, this building has undergone many changes but one thing remains, The Park House is a friendly meeting place filled with atmosphere, overlooking beautiful Lake Huron.”

If you’re looking for good food in a casual setting, I highly recommend a visit to the Park House next time you’re in Goderich.

Park House Tavern & Eatery
168 West Street, Goderich, Ontario

Rib/Wing combo

Rib/Wing combo

Sherry enjoyed deep fried yellow fish fillets and home-cut french fries

Sherry enjoyed deep fried yellow fish fillets and home-cut french fries


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