All roads lead to Ontario’s Southwest for foodies looking to sink their teeth into Canada’s freshest summer flavours.
The region is home to some of the country’s most fertile soil and is known for long stretches of summer sunshine. Combine those two factors with a talented team of farmers, producers and chefs and you’ve got a recipe for one tasty day of touring. Here are some favourite local flavour makers to seek out on your next summer road trip.
With travel restrictions in place, we recommend that locals stay home as much as possible and use this article to inspire future travel. Only venture out for essentials and if you feel comfortable doing so safely and in accordance with health guidelines. Better yet, buying gift cards and shopping online is a great way to show your support for these local businesses while staying safe.
Shaw’s Ice Cream
Stopping at Shaw’s Ice Cream in St. Thomas is a time-honoured tradition for locals and tourists on their way to Port Stanley beach. The beloved local landmark has been producing ice cream since 1948 and today three sisters are carrying on the tradition of making ice cream a true family affair. The over 50 flavours of ice cream all share a few things in common: fresh, local cream and the purest flavourings. Try a scoop of Port Stanley Sunken Treasure, which is a luscious mixture of vanilla ice cream with a caramel ribbon and small treasures of chocolate covered almond toffee.
Location just minutes from the entrance to Point Pelee National Park, you'll find what's become one of the favourites stops for anyone who comes to the southernmost tip of mainland Canada, Birdie's Perch. Its fresh Lake Erie perch, their signature crisp, lightly breaded treat, is served from a bright red 1965 double decker bus overlooking the waters. Be sure to try the perch in a cone with the owners’ secret tartar sauce!
Refined Fool Brewing Company
What started out as a group of friends brewing beer in their houses has evolved into one of downtown Sarnia’s most beloved brewpubs. In addition to an always changing and always delicious collection of inspired craft beers, with amazingly creative names, Refined Fool offers its patrons a casual environment that builds a strong sense of community. Visit them in one of their two Sarnia locations, including their brand new Midtown location with a restaurant right on site!
Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery
You'll love the Lake Erie views at Sprucewood Shores Estate Winery, Ontario's only beachfront winery. You can take full advantage of the beach by taking a glass of one of their award-winning wines and a picnic basket of local bread, baked goods, and cheeses to enjoy on the picnic table and listen to the waves as you sip and savour.
Crazy 8 Barn
The unique 8-sided barn, reconstructed from the original 1898 design is the centrepiece of Crazy 8 Barn & Garden a very special garden inspiration centre that connects you to nature and fresh homemade foods. Step into the barn and take in the smells of all the made from scratch baked goods coming from the open kitchen. On a warm day, grab a Busted Buttertart Sundae made with chunks of their tarts mixed with Shaw’s Ice Cream!
Bayside Brewing Company
Summer pints on the patio just seem to taste better with a view of the water. If you agree, the deck at Bayside Brewing Company in the historic town of Erieau has a view of Lake Erie’s Rondeau Bay that is hard to beat. Order a Honey Cream Ale, which is made with locally sourced honey. Be sure to try one of Bayside’s wood-fired pizzas. The Peaches & Cream, which is topped with grilled peaches, chicken, caramelized onions and a parmesan cream sauce, pairs beautifully with the Honey Cream Ale.
Oxley Estate Winery (and friends)
Located on County Road 50 in Essex County, Oxley Estate Winery is in very good company. The scenic road, which winds along the shore of Lake Erie, is just a short drive from Windsor and is home to a friendly collection of farms, wineries, vegetable stands, restaurants, bed and breakfasts and other unique small businesses. Each summer the neighbouring businesses host a weekend-long touring event called Explore the Shore, which encourages visitors to sample local foods, taste local wines and browse area shops. This year’s event is on July 28th and 29th. Learn more at www.exploretheshore.ca
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