As Mother Nature sends out her spring wakeup call after a long, grey winter, there’s no better place to treat your taste buds to the fresh flavours of the new season than Ontario’s Southwest. Home to some of the country’s most fertile farmland, you’ll find delicious spring produce and products around every corner at local farm markets and roadside stands and in the delectable dishes of our region’s many talented chefs. If you’re wondering where to begin, here are few favourite stops for feeding your spring flavour cravings:
Once you taste a dish prepared with freshly picked asparagus, the imported asparagus at the grocery store will forever disappoint. Chef Benjamin LeBlanc’s asparagus omelette is perfect proof. The former Chopped Canada contestant does such amazing things with local produce that the Iron Kettle, the charming bed and breakfast he runs with his wife, has become one of the region’s most beloved culinary destinations. Benjamin loves helping his guests build flavourful itineraries for their stay, providing recommendations for local wineries, breweries and more.
If a pancake breakfast at a sugar bush is on your spring bucket list, Ontario’s Southwest has some great options, like Richardson’s Farm and Market in Dunville and Jakeman’s Maple Products in Oxford County.
For a delicious example of how local producers incorporate the region’s maple syrup into their products, stop by Chocolatea in Ingersoll for a taste of their “Canadian Breakfast” chocolate, which is made with Jakeman’s maple syrup and maple candied bacon.
Freshly Foraged Produce
Chef Eric Boyar regularly takes to the land to source the freshest seasonal ingredients for his buzzed-about farm-to-table offerings at his restaurant, Six Thirty Nine in Woodstock. Time your visit right and you may be lucky enough to taste the magic of just-picked fiddleheads.
Insider tip: the 2016 crop was ready during the second week of May.
The New New Age in Port Stanley is another great option to visit if you’re eager to discover unique foraged flavours. Visit their shop and browse their amazing selection of products, including Forest Floor, a nutrient-dense mineral broth spice blend that contains shiitake, reishi, chaga, turkey tail, ginseng, ginger, bay leaf, spikenard root, red root, pine needles and more.
Burgers and Birds
Ontario’s Southwest is one of North America’s premier birding destinations, and birders flock to the region to catch the miracle of the spring migration every year. In-the-know birders fuel up after their early morning sky watch at Jack’s Gastropub in Kingsville. In addition to burgers made with locally sourced ingredients, the restaurant’s nano brewery, Banded Goose Brewing, crafts flavourful pints that are well worth the trip. To learn more about experiencing the spring migration in Ontario’s Southwest, check out our Insider’s guide to the region’s best bet birding sites.
Foodie Fun with the Fam
If you plan to bring children along on your spring flavours road trip, be sure to incorporate a kid-friendly activity or two along the way. Leaping Deer Adventure Farm and Market and Apple Land Station are two fantastic options. Check days and hours of operation before you go.
Fill the Trunk
No trip to Ontario’s Southwest is complete without picking up some regional produce and products to enjoy at home. Stock up on fresh produce, local cheeses, maple syrup and more at the region’s many farmer’s markets and farm stands. Read our Top of the Crop blog post for a roundup of some of our all-time favourite stops.