I love the city and its energy – but sometimes a short getaway from the fast pace of life is just what the doctor ordered. Fortunately, a relaxing escape (and a tasty one at that) is a road trip away.
Spending time in Ontario’s Highlands will not only help you recharge your batteries but will also satisfy your inner ‘foodie’. While road tripping through Ontario Highlands you’ll encounter some fun and tasty culinary stops all while enjoying the benefits of the countryside. Imagine traffic free roads, cruising past horse drawn buggies and green far reaching farmer’s fields. Explore small historic towns and enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking and rafting. Along the way you will encounter the warmest welcome and unique businesses that are truly passionate about their work and their product.
Here’s a small sampling of some of the yummy stops you can make in Ontario’s Highlands:
Comfort Food and Hospitality at Hidden Goldmine Bakery – Madoc, Ontario
This family owned and operated business is truly a goldmine full of local gems such as artisanal products and delicious home cooked goodies. What began as a wholesale business selling baked goods from the family home of Cheryl and Brad Freeman has transformed into a flourishing bakery and cafe. The name of the cafe is an ode to Cheryl’s father who used to work in a local goldmine which was the first one in Ontario! Plan to stay awhile. Savour made-from-scratch pastries using recipes passed down from Cheryl’s grandmother and a home cooked lunch made with produce from a local Amish farm. The hardest decision you’ll have to make is which pastry to try! After lunch peruse their selection of local products such as honey, maple syrup and crafts. While you’re there, pick up some new home accessories. Many of the antiques and decor items hanging from the walls are available for purchase. Once an item is sold, it’s replaced by another unique piece.
Get your Java Fix at Equator Coffee, Roastery & Cafe – Almonte, Ontario
Organic, fair trade and freshly roasted – this is what Equator Coffee is all about. Equator Coffee came to be after owner and operator Craig felt a strong desire to support small-scale farmers in the coffee industry. They are part of a cooperative with 23 community-based coffee roasters in North America whose goal is to work directly with coffee farmers to fairly trade and source sustainable green coffee. All beans are roasted onsite. Their in-house team tastes each roast together through a process called “coffee cupping” to test its quality before putting it to market. They also offer informal tours of their roastery and coffee cupping workshops to community members. Their espresso is a must try!
Have your Willy Wonka Moment at Hummingbird Chocolate Maker – Almonte, Ontario
Treat yourself to some handcrafted bean-to-bar chocolate. Much care is put into their product, its process and how their cacao beans are sourced. Started by former aid workers Drew and Erica, Hummingbird Chocolate works with farmers to ensure the beans they source are ethical and sustainable. All the work is done in-house – from sorting each bean by hand, to roasting, grinding and tempering. This process takes one week to complete at which point the chocolate ages for a full month to allow the flavours and ingredients to cozy up to one another. Every region produces a different tasting bean, giving each finished product a unique individual taste. After behaving like Augustus Gloop and trying every flavour available, my favourites include the Mayan, spiced with chili and cinnamon, and their Hispaniola bar which is an International Chocolate Award winner. Tours are available to the public and chocolates are available for sampling.
Dine by the Waterfalls at Heirloom Cafe & Bistro – Almonte, Ontario
Enjoy a taste of fine dining inside a restored heritage building. Formerly a Victorian Woolen Mill in 1857, the casual space is now occupied by condominiums and Heirloom Cafe & Bistro. Open for brunch, lunch and dinner, their menu will leave you salivating over all of the delicious options and libations. Dishes arrive beautifully presented at the table – they’re just as enjoyable to eat as they are to look at! Once you’ve filled your belly, check out the cascading waterfalls behind the bistro.
Dine in a Cave – Eganville, Ontario
Dine inside the narrow corridors and open rooms of the Bonnechere Caves. The layers of limestone that make up the cave are between 400 and 500 million years old – way before dinosaurs set foot on this planet. Expect an intimate dinner with live music set to a backdrop of cave walls glowing from candlelight. A one-of-a-kind experience; this will surely be a highlight!