While many Torontonians and foreign visitors normally head to Niagara-on-the Lake and the surrounding wine region to immerse themselves in the culinary offerings southern Ontario has to offer, other areas such as Norfolk County offer a quieter, yet equally exciting food scene. Food tourism in southern Ontario is slowly flourishing, providing a great alternative for shopping and a new source of revenue for the local economy.
Recently we decided to see if Ontario sweet corn was available in this region. My husband LOVES corn. Locally grown is much better than imported from the US in his opinion. If you can get it off the back of an Ontario farmer’s truck, picked that morning, it’s even better.
Our recent day trip into this area of Ontario was more of a half-day trip, with an early start on the road. The first stop was the Brantford Farmers Market and specifically Huzul’s for their kielbasa. Frank likes their honey garlic kielbasa, which I admit is a nice blend of sweet and savoury. Jensen Cheese also sells their delicious products at the market – we picked up an Extra Old Cheddar which makes a great addition to sandwiches or for snacks – try it as a grilled cheese sandwich.
Leaving Brantford, we explored the smaller country roads. Due to the large amounts of rain Ontario has been receiving this summer, everything is lushly green. Wildflowers along the sides of the road make it so much more of a prettier drive. Everywhere you go there’s a forest or a farm with fields of corn, grains, peanuts or other produce.
On weekends, everything is slower in this part of Ontario. Many shops and attraction sites are closed until 10:30 am or even 11:00 a.m. We didn’t have a chance to stop at Picard’s Peanut near Simcoe, nor check out a local winery that’s making a name for itself in the GTA. The reason why? We were too early!
Our primary mission was to find one of our favourite spots for fresh fruit and vegetables – a stand near Simcoe (on Highway 24, just south of Highway 6). Frank’s goal was to get at least four dozen ears of fresh Ontario sweet corn. We saw a bag on a table, but the gentleman at the stand suggested we get a fresh batch from the back of the truck. We also picked up a container of raspberries and blueberries and a freshly baked berry pie.
Making our way through the region, we did a quick pit-stop in Port Dover. Unfortunately we were too early to stop into our favourite spot for hot dogs – The Arbor! We did snap a selfie – please excuse Frank’s unshaven appearance. We go into weekend warrior mode – aka – unshaven and no-makeup – on these kinds of trips. And yes, there is a palm tree behind Frank. A real one. I kid you not.
We did make a stop at my new favourite “dairy bar” near Hagersville – Hewitt’s Dairy. Looking like something out of the 1950s, this spot offers hot foods such as hamburgers and fries, as well as delicious ice cream desserts. I opted for a waffle cone with a scoop of my favourite pralines ‘n cream and raspberry swirl. It tasted like the ice cream of my youth – creamy and flavourful. No preservatives and other fillers added like with most store brands.
As soon as we got back to Burlington, we headed to my in-laws to do the traditional corn-shucking. If we had known that we could shuck corn this way, we’d do it…
Our way took a while longer. The husks piled up in my in-law’s composter. The corn was stored away in sealable bags and divvied up between our two families so that we could enjoy.
Here’s how I like to enjoy sweet Ontario corn: melt butter in a small saucepan and add a few dashes of hot sauce and lime juice (to taste). Spread it over boiled corn on the cob. Add a touch of salt to taste and dig in!
Have you ever checked out the food tourism in Southern Ontario? Do you have any must-have places to visit to share with us?