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Friday, October 2, 2009

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By Fresh Bites

Food Network's Chef Anna Olson will be on-hand at the 2009 Niagara Food Festival!

It is Harvest Festival Weekend in Southern Ontario and there is so much to see and do in and around Toronto that making a decision on where to go and how to get there can be a stressful one.  Luckily, for you, we have created two “drive-guides” to help you get the most out of your harvest weekend. 

Drive #1 – Eastbound and Down Culinary Tour (Saturday/Sunday)

Call all your friends and plan to meet in Yorkville or better yet, The Danforth tomorrow, Saturday.  You will need an early start to hit the road for Durham Region.  Gates Open Durham is on this weekend and the two-day event is filled with fresh local food, farm tours and more.  Depart (10:00am) for Port Perry (1h 20 min by car) and get ready for some good eats.  The Savour Durham Harvest Market will be held between 8:00am and 4:00pm on Saturday at Palmer Park offering local food sampling, cooking demonstrations, as well as agricultural education for the kids.  That evening, the Savour Durham Harvest Dinner will be held at Knox’s Pumpkin Farm in Bowmanville.  Knox's Pumpkin Farm, Bowmanville.  Hosted by Durham Tourism, the Durham Farm Fresh Marketing Association, and Kings Court Catering – the dinner will include a multi-course pairing with wines of only the freshest and in-season meats and vegetables from within Durham Region.  Gremolata will be there with a LIVE Twitter of every delicious eat!   Why not make it a mini getaway weekend?  The good folks at Gates Open have provided a great link to some quality bed and breakfasts throughout Durham Region.  Simply click here to see the listings.

The next morning, it is time to rise and shine and do start touring the farms.  One of the innovative things about the Gates Open Festival is that farms and orchards across Durham Region open their doors for the general public to see how they operate.  On Sunday, you can meet your local farmers and their animals, tour the barns and farmyards, see live demonstrations of on-farm activities, and sample local foods.  Some farms will have products for sale, be sure to bring your cooler!  You can plan your tour in advance by visiting the Gates Open Durham Website where you can find a complete list of farms, restaurants, and other participants.

Drive #2 – Celebrating Fall near the Falls (Saturday/Sunday)

The Niagara Food Festival celebrates its 15th anniversary on the weekend of October 3, 4, and 5 in historic downtown Welland, during the city’s 150th birthday year. The annual showcase of all things food and drink in Niagara brings together growers, producers, restaurateurs, chefs, wineries, and entertainers to celebrate the best the Niagara region has to offer.  If you ever needed an excuse to visit Niagara Wine Country, we cannot think of a better one.

Find a nice central meeting place in the West End of Toronto (we love Bloor West Village), grab a Zip Car rental, and hit the road.  The drive to Welland is about an hour given the infamous traffic along the QEW in Oakville.  Try to leave early to maximize your time.  On Saturday, near Main and King Streets in Welland, the Mobile Culinary Kitchen will feature a series of demonstrations and shows by local chefs including Anna Olson from Food Network’s Sugar and Fresh with Anna Olson series.  You can spend a few hours enjoying the festivities then head over to Niagara-on-the-Lake for some dinner and accommodations at one of the great local bed and breakfasts. 

The next morning, why not tour some of the local shops of Niagara-on-the-Lake or the roadside markets and vineyards before heading back to your Bloor-West drop-off point.  If you time it perfectly, you will be able to attend the High Park Harvest Festival running from noon till 4:30pm at Colborne Lodge.  Enjoy the harvest in High Park with food, crafts, music, horse and wagon rides, warm apple cider and more.  It is a great ending to a road trip to the Niagara Peninsula.

Of course, for those of you who cannot afford the time to get away with all the household responsibilities and looking for something a little more local, you can always venture off to the annual Picnic at the Brick Works.  Slow Food Toronto and Evergreen are once again joining forces to host this eco-gastronomic event celebrating the pleasure, benefits and positive impact that come with supporting our local producers and the chefs who showcase these sustainable foods. The theme of this year’s Picnic is "locally global" in recognition of the many cultural groups from around the world who make Toronto their home and enrich our city through their diverse food traditions.  This event will be held at The Brickworks Market and runs from noon to 4:00pm on Sunday.  The price is $80.00 for Slow Food and Evergreen members and $110.00 for the general public.

And there you have it, two great getaways to experience the Fall harvest this weekend.  Do you have another suggestion for a great weekend getaway in and around Southern Ontario?  If so, we want to here about them.  What is your favorite Fall getaway destination in Southern Ontario?  Is it home to great wines or an annual festival?  Maybe it is a favorite bed and breakfast where the morning baked goods are simply the best around?  Let us know!  Have a tasty weekend!

*Photo Courtesy of Niagara Food Festival


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