Snowflake Stays at Oakwood Inn

7 Dec

by Diva Danica Rush

Snowflake Stay PackagesLooking for a unique way to start off the holiday season, I treated my mother to a snowflake stay package at Oakwood Spa and Resort. The staff were warm and the wonderful evergreens on the grounds were decorated beautifully adding to the holiday cheer. We made our way to a wonderfully spacious suite and opened up our welcome basket containing Huron County treats. Our room was stunning and the two fireplaces and the pine finishes were the perfect setting for some mother/daughter time.  I’m a bit of a boutique hotel junkie and have to say that I was very impressed with the waterfall bathtub and rainfall shower that came with the suite. After enjoying a walk down to the private beach, a soak in the indoor hot tub and saltwater pool, we made our way to the Oakwood Pub for dinner.

OakwoodResort

The decor of the Oakwood Pub was beautiful and tastefully decorated in red bows and garlands, with little Christmas arrangements and gingerbread houses set out along the oak bar and fireplaces. The crowd was a lively mix of all ages; a table of women in their 20s enjoying a girls’ night, couples mingling at the bar and a few seniors out for a Friday night meal together. The ambiance was lovely – enjoyable background music and soft lighting seemed to put everyone in a jolly mood. The Chef has created seasonal menus for the weeks leading up to Christmas; with each week showcasing a different menu. Being the first week of December, we were handed “The First Week of Christmas Menu” and it was pretty hard to choose a dish as they all sounded amazing. I ordered “The Snow Man Beef and Noodles” while my mom ordered the “Ocean Jewels” off the traditional menu, neither of us were disappointed. My Ontario raised- grain-fed beef was delicious and the papperdalle noodles were perfectly cooked. The addition of sour cream and green pea shoots complimented the mushroom, red wine and demi-glace nicely. My mom said the scallops and shrimps were perfectly cooked. She loved the lemon rice that came with the dish and veggies reminded her of the way my grandma used to cook them. We were definitely satisfied but could not give up the temptation of sharing the Candy Cane Cheese Cake – a chocolatey and creamy piece of holiday joy. The night ended with girl talk by the fireplace while we enjoyed the complimentary coffee and teas that awaited us back in the room.

Snow Man Beef and Noodles

Snow Man Beef and Noodles

Ocean Jewels

Ocean Jewels

Candy Cane Cheese Cake

Candy Cane Cheese Cake

After a refreshing sleep we made our way to the Oak Room Dining Room for a hot breakfast buffet overlooking the Oakwood grounds. The experience of the Snowflake Stay Package at Oakwood Spa and Resort was a wonderful way for my mother and I to connect, recharge and unwind before the excitement of the holiday rush. If you are looking for a special way to treat your mom (or another loved one) to the warm spirit of Huron County, I would highly recommend a snowflake stay package at Oakwood Spa and Resort.

Oakwood Spa and Resort
70671 Bluewater Highway
Grand Bend (South Huron), ON
N0M 1T0
1 800-387-2324

OakwoodResortSwag

Bayfield Christmas Parade

4 Dec

by Diva Rachel Lynn

Ahhhh Christmas. I love everything about Christmas.  I love the snow. I love the carols. I love spending time with family and I love Christmas themed events.  I gathered up my mother-in-law and daughter and headed to Christmas in Bayfield.

We arrived as the stores opened to beat the morning crowds… or so we thought.  It seems like a lot of others had the same idea.  As we popped in and out of stores, there were free offerings of hot chocolate and apple cider to keep us warm.

The crowd is getting bigger waiting for Ol’ Saint Nick

The crowd is getting bigger waiting for Ol’ Saint Nick

The shops were decorated for the Christmas season and the music was playing in the background and I caught myself humming along.  You could also get free horse drawn carriage rides around town.

JMR Gallery & Village Bookshop are ready to welcome guests

JMR Gallery & Village Bookshop are ready to welcome guests

It was time for the parade and people were lining up on the Main Street.  There was a variety of people in the parade from miniature horses, to a pipe band to the local fire department.

FiretrucksAndFuryFriendsI managed to pick up a few goodies, but unfortunately I can’t show you the pictures!  Someone reading this may be a recipient of the gifts!

After an hour of shopping we decided to visit the Albion Hotel for a bite to eat.  The place was packed!  We didn’t even think to make reservations but managed to grab one of the last tables.  We decided to feast on wings and sweet potato fries.  I must commend the waitress.  She was amazing! Even though the place was full, our drink order came fast, our meal was really fast and the food was hot and delicious.  I would recommend the Albion to anyone who wants a relaxed atmosphere.  I will even go so far to so say the Albion has the best wings around.

WingsFries

Beatrice was fast asleep as we headed home.  Despite the rain, it was a fantastic day.  The people were happy, the streets were full and Bayfield helped us all get ready for Christmas.

A few tips for those attending the parades:

  • If the parade is on Main St and you can back your car up in a parking spot, please do.  This will help if it is raining or too cold so you can watch from the front seat.
  • If you plan on eating before or after the parade at a local restaurant, make reservations to avoid disappointment.
  •  If you didn’t make the Bayfield Santa Claus Parade, Santa is making one more stop in Huron County – Clinton Santa Claus Parade: December 5 @ 7pm

Snowflake Stay @ Hessenland

3 Dec Hessenland2

by Diva Rachel Lynn

Snowflake Stays are taking place at four different Inns throughout Huron County From Dec.1 to Jan.1. Packages start at $101.50 per person per night and all come with a special welcome gift, dining and accommodation. For more information on this great winter opportunity visit http://www.ontarioswestcoast.ca/beta/news/snowflake-stays/

Snowflake Stay Packages

Hessenland Country Inn is a beautiful place on Lake Huron between Grand Bend and Bayfield.  My husband and I were looking for a night away and decided Hessenland was the place for us.  We decided on the Snowflake package, which included a welcome gift, a 3 course dinner and breakfast.

There is a rich history to Hessenland, which is now run by second generation Ihrigs: Frank and Liz.  Frank is the head chef and Liz takes care of the day to day operations as the Innkeeper.  For more on their history please visit: http://www.hessenland.com/about-us/http://hessenland.com/about-us/

My family is German and this is one of the reasons why I wanted to stay at Hessenland.  My dad was born in Germany and came to Canada in 1956.  My maternal grandmother came to Canada in 1933.

As we opened the doors we were greeted to a beautiful décor and our host for the evening: Katie. She showed us around the Inn and to our room before we were guided to dinner.

HessenlandChristmasTree

Shawn got the Caesar salad, but not just any Caesar salad.  Here is there description:

Hessenland’s Classic Caesar Salad made with Crisp Romaine and tossed with our own Caesar dressing, with Westphalia Ham, and aged white cheddar and 12 Rye Bread.  

I choose the Die Hessenland Gulasch Suppe (goulash ) cup of soup.  I was not disappointed.  It was full of flavour and the beef was so tender.

HessenlandAppetizers

Main course:  Katie was informing us of the specials for the evening but as soon as Shawn saw Rouladen on the menu he tuned her out (sorry Katie!).  Rouladen is tender slices of Beef stuffed with vegetables, bacon & spices.    My mom makes this German staple like no other and Shawn has never seen it on any other menu.  He did not offer to share with me.

HessenlandRouladen2

I knew before we arrived that I was going to order the schnitzel.  It’s one of my all-time favourite comfort foods and reminds me of home. I had high expectations for this meal.  It came with spaetzle (homemade noodles) and fresh veggies.  I was given the option of red cabbage (also one of my mom’s specialties and one of my favourites) but opted out as they make theirs sweet and my mom makes hers sour (I usually prefer it sour).  I was pleasantly surprised when my dish came to with a sample of the red cabbage.

My expectations were beyond met.  I could not get enough of the food. It brought me right back home.  And the red cabbage was so good.

Schnitzel

 Pork Schnitzel, “Schweine Schnitzel”, Huron County Pork breaded and sautéed

I had to stop myself from eating all of the schnitzel to save room for dessert.  Shawn ordered crème brule and I ordered the strawberry sherbet.  My sherbet was made with real strawberries from Masse Fruit & Vegetable Market down the road.  It was the perfect ending to a spectacular meal.

HessenlandDessert

When we arrived at our deluxe room, a welcome package was waiting with lots of great goodies, including homemade cookies from Chef Frank, a welcome letter from Frank and Liz and a Snowflake list of “Things to do” in Huron County this winter.  This was extremely useful as it helped me decide to go to the Poinsettia Festival the next evening.

SnowflakeStaySwag

Hessenland was a great staycation (only 25 minutes from Goderich).  We will definitely come here again….and again.

Hessenland Country Inn
72981 Bluewater Hwy, RR1
Zurich, ON
519-2360-7707

Hessenland: www.hessenland.com
Follow them on Facebook: www.facebook.com/hessenland
and Twitter: https://twitter.com/HessenlandInn

 The Snowflake Stay Package at the Benmiller Inn & Spa

1 Dec

by Diva Calista Powell

Snowflake Stays are taking place at four different Inns throughout Huron County From Dec.1 to Jan.1. Packages start at $101.50 per person per night and all come with a special welcome gift, dining and accommodation. For more information on this great winter opportunity visit http://www.ontarioswestcoast.ca/beta/news/snowflake-stays/

Snowflake Stay Packages

A cozy lounge area outside of the dining hall decorated for the holidays.

A cozy lounge area outside of the dining hall decorated for the holidays.

 

My appetizer: Blyth Farm Golden Eweda Raclette. A must try!

My appetizer: Blyth Farm Golden Eweda Raclette. A must try!

Once we get hit with the notorious Huron County snow squalls, it’s easy to go into hibernation mode and want to stay indoors until the warmer seasons. After experiencing the Snowflake Stay package at the Benmiller Inn & Spa, I am so glad that I got to enjoy the beautiful side of winter. My partner Dan and I arrived to Benmiller after dark, so we went right to the dining room to enjoy our three-course meal that was included in the package. The entire menu looked delicious, and I always appreciate when local fare is incorporated into the recipes. I was feeling pretty adventurous so I chose the Blyth Farm golden eweda raclette appetizer, which was a skillet full of rissole potato, cornichon pickles, double smoked bacon and a grainy mustard sauce. I have to say; I‘ve never had anything quite like this dish. The double smoked bacon was to die for, and I especially enjoyed the cornichon pickles. For the main course, I treated myself to the grilled Ontario duck breast that was crusted with a delicious spice served on top of a sweet potato mash and root vegetable rissole. The montmorency cherries were the perfect amount of sweet to compliment the rich flavours in the duck. Just when I thought our meal could not have gotten any better, it was time for dessert. A natural chocoholic, I selected the flourless chocolate gateau. The serving size was massive, and it tasted absolutely decadent and rich-just how chocolate cake should be. I must also credit the attentive dining staff, as our server Amber was especially thorough, and ensured that our experience was first-rate.

Grilled duck on sweet potato mashed

Grilled duck on sweet potato mashed

After our meal, it was time to check into our room in the River Mill building where we found a lovely gift of jam preserves, candy canes and Huron County thermoses. Bundled up in our Benmiller robes, we enjoyed a bedtime tea in our room, which had a view that overlooked the Maitland River. We arose early in the morning to check out the indoor pool, and I was wishing that I had packed a swimsuit. We headed back down to the dining hall to enjoy our breakfast of Omega-3 eggs, smoked bacon, homefries, fresh fruit, and Benmiller Inn baked scones with fresh blueberry jam.

Photo 4s

Not wanting to leave just yet, we decided to take in the beautiful day and walk around the grounds. Growing up in this area, I am aware of how beautiful the river is in the summertime, but with the sunshine gleaming off of the fresh fallen snow and the frozen ponds, it was absolutely stunning. I can’t recommend the Benmiller Inn & Spa enough for their friendly service, delicious food, gorgeous landscape and cozy rooms. I most definitely want to try out another Snowflake Stay package at another Huron County destination. Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, or even a girl’s weekend, any Snowflake Stay package will be sure to create lasting memories for you this winter.

Photo 5s

All Snowflake Stay Packages include:

– A welcome gift awaiting in your room
– A snowflake sugar cookie
– Accommodations for one night
– Three-Course Dinner for Two
– Breakfast for Two

To book at the Benmiller Inn & Spa, visit http://benmiller.ca/snowflake-stay/email guestservices@benmiller.ca or call 1-800-265-1711.

The Benmiller Inn & Spa
81175 Benmiller Line
Goderich, Ontario
Canada N7A 3Y1
Tel: (800) 265-1711 or (519) 524.2191
Fax: (519) 524.5150

A New Thanksgiving Tradition

17 Nov Grandma Polly says it’s turkey time. Thank-you Hayter’s Farm!

by Diva Calista Powell
As our American neighbours prepare for their Thanksgiving feasts, I can’t help but reminisce about the amazing dinner that my family had this year. After visiting the Howick Fall Fair and seeing the wide variety of vegetables grown by my fellow Huron-Countians, I made it my goal to support local when selecting my Thanksgiving produce. Starting with the main attraction for this year’s meal, we picked up a fresh Hayter’s turkey. The great thing about Hayter’s is that you don’t have to drive too far in the county to get one, as they have a number of supermarkets where they distribute their products. Next on my grocery list was bread for the stuffing. Tasty-Nu Bakery and Cheese House in Zurich made this really easy. It just so happened that the last Goderich Farmer’s Market was happening on the Saturday before our big meal, so we picked up some carrots, potatoes for mashing, and my personal favourite- broccoflower (a hybrid of broccoli and cauliflower).

Steaming broccoflower and carrots from the Goderich Farmer’s Market.

Steaming broccoflower and carrots from the Goderich Farmer’s Market.

Grandma Polly says it’s turkey time. Thank-you Hayter’s Farm!

Grandma Polly says it’s turkey time. Thank-you Hayter’s Farm!

With the Christmas season around the corner, another family meal needs to be prepared. Even though the snow has made a recent appearance, you can still get great local produce. I recently became aware of the year-round Farm to Table box that offers Bruce and Huron residents produce grown in our region. This program is volunteer-run and have many locations for pick-up.

For schedules and more information about the Farm to Table Box email farmtotablebox@gmail.com or leave a message at 519-335-3493. For updates, follow them on Twitter (@farmproducebox) or like them on Facebook.
To see where you can purchase Hayter’s Farm products visit their website at http://www.haytersfarm.com/.

Dinner is served!

Dinner is served!

Laithwaite Apple Park, a fun family outing

14 Nov applesfrompark_1

by Diva Rachel Lynn
A couple of weekends ago our family visited Laithwaite Apple Park.  The park is located 1km east of Goderich on hwy 8.   It’s not just an apple park.  It’s also a farm that has many sculptures from cement, metal, fieldstone and found materials by George Laithwaite (1873-1956).  Some of the figures were created as satirical or political commentary on world events, while others were based on comic strip characters.  Most of his statues were created as a hobby during slow economic times.

statueapplepark_1

The Apple Park also features a farm store selling seasonal products.  Some products include apples, fruit in season, potatoes, honey, jam, apple butter, apple cider, squash and many more.  It is open year round.

Products available at Apple Park

Products available at Apple Park

On our visit we had pumpkins in mind as well as apples.  There are so many kinds of apples so I asked which one I should use for apple pie.  Pauline (one of the owners) mentioned she likes Courtland.  These apples were huge!  And delicious too.  Thanks to Pauline’s suggestion, I made a mean apple pie.

applesfrompark_1

Bea choosing her pumpkin

Bea choosing her pumpkin

pumpkins found a happy home.

pumpkins found a happy home.

Although our main purpose was pumpkins and apples we also picked up Robinson’s Maple syrup, spaghetti squash and a rutabaga.  I love good food and supporting local.

Laithwaite Apple Park
35563 Huron Rd,
Goderich
519-524-7763.

DUCK Dinner at Samuels enjoyed by this Travel Diva

12 Nov Finish - Fresh Concord Grape Mousse

by Diva Rachel Lynn

I think the name of this dinner should be renamed to “mmmmmmm”.  Seriously.  I recently had the pleasure of attending my first Food for Thought dinner at Samuels Hotel, just north of Goderich.  It was my girlfriend Caroline who suggested that we go.  I made reservations right away because any event I’ve ever attended at Samuels sells out fast! The food prepared had many local suppliers: Bayfield Berry Farm, Weth Mushrooms, Firmly Rooted, Shanahan’s Meats and Everspring Farms. As we waited for our starter, the owner of Everspring Farms, Dale Donaldson, told us a bit about Muscovy duck: they have a distinct flavor (like beef), Males are larger than females, lower in fat. starterddm_1Our started was Duck and Shiitake Dumplings:  fried dumplings with duck, shiitake mushrooms and chestnuts. Salad (sorry no picture, It was too good and ¾ gone by the time I remembered). Baby kale, sweet potato, curried quinoa and cranberries.

Main

Main

Muscovy Duck Breast, white bean puree, brussel sprouts . The duck was seared with black currant cassis sauce, white bean puree, bacon and lemon brussels sprouts.

Finish

Finish

Concord Grape Mousse, fresh off the vine grapes whipped into a light creamy mousse. I thought at many points throughout my meal that I may need to smack hands away from my duck and mousse.  To say it was delicious is a serious understatement.

Kim Burgsma, chef and owner of Samuels Hotel came by our table at the end of our meal to say hello.  I couldn’t say enough good things about the meal and about Kim.

To find out more about Samuels Hotel, please visit www.samuelshotel.ca  This is a must see place in Huron County.

Samuels Hotel Inc.
34031 Saltford Rd
Goderich, ON N7A 4C6
(519) 524-1371
www.samuelshotel.ca

 

Huron County Suppliers: Bayfield Berry Farm, Weth Mushrooms, Firmly RootedShanahan’s Meats  and Everspring Farms.

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