By May DeLory
Are you a ‘foodie’? If so, visit Stratford, Ontario with its delicious reputation for gourmet culinary tasting tours. Mouthwatering food items await anyone who visits Stratford, Ontario. Combine a culinary tasting tour with an autumn scenic road tour as the Ontario rural landscape is currently at its most colourful. Travel time by automobile Toronto to Stratford is about two-hours. Travel by rail Toronto to Stratford is a convenient way in which to visit this area and takes about one-hour and twenty-minutes.
Take an organized or self-guided tasting tour alone, with your mate or get the family together for Thanksgiving Day or holiday food gifts. A picnic by the Avon River is another option for a Stratford culinary tour as there are many take-out restaurants, cafes and gourmet deli shops of extremely high quality from which to choose items for a picnic. Stop by Kitchen Connaisseur in town for their tasty cream curry sauce for a picnic sandwich.
Karen Hartwick, a tea sommelier, offers unique tea tasting workshops in the centre of town with an elaborate demonstration of loose leaf teas sourced from around the world. Karen will help you sniff out teas and their integral ingredients. Karen will also custom create tea canisters with your name on the pretty tin. Custom tea tins make for ideal gift items and are a lot of fun after indulging in a tea tasting workshop. The workshop takes about twenty-minutes per person. Or ask Karen to custom design a tea workshop on the teas you are interested in purchasing.
Then it’s on to Theo Thompson for a private tour of their homemade chocolates and candies premises in the centre of Stratford. Their shop caters to weddings and seasonal specialty items designed in the most unique ways. Theo Thompson makes online food orders a snap to send food baskets back home to friends. Or just drop by Theo Thompson's candy store to see for yourself all the goodies in pretty packages you can purchase. Samples are a regular occasion at Theo Thompson!
Pets aren't left out of the regional cuisine epicureian offerings in Stratford either. The Barkery pooch shop in Stratford on a picture-postcard side street serves up doggie treats prepared without artificial flavours, food colouring, salt, corn, sugar and is a healthy choice for a pet! Doggie gift baskets are designed at The Barkery to make any doggie proud. Try the seasonal treats for Halloween and Christmas. The pooch paw print cookies are a howl. The Barkery's owner says humans just love her doggie treats, too.
Expand your organic produce knowledge with a tour at Organic’s Soiled Reputation Farm to learn the ecosystem approach to growing and eating organic vegetables. Over 50 varieties – such as purslane, an eatable weed high in omega-3 fatty acids – are lovingly grown at Soiled Reputation. The farm is on the outskirts of Stratford and offers farm tours; it’s a great place to introduce children on how food comes to the table directly from the farm.
The Best Little Pork Shoppe , on the outskirts of Stratford in the pretty rural area of Shakespeare in Perth County, has won many awards over the years and serves up local pork and gourmet bottled sauces by owners Linda and Bruce Wettlaufer. The pork is government inspected and of the highest quality and taste. The pork and especially hog sausage are so good that these items regularly sell out. The Wettlaufer's motto is "We don't sell anything we don't like ourselves."
Another spot to include in a Stratford gourmand's tasting tour is The Monforte Dairy artisanal cheese company at 49 Griffith Road. Monforte offers a sustainable and healthy outlook to sheep and goat cheeses and recently got the thumbs up from Prince Charles during his 2009 visit. The sheep, cow and goat milk come from hay and grass-fed animals. Many of the farm ingredients for Monforte's cheeses are sourced from Mennonite farms. No antibiotics are used in Monforte cheeses. Telephone for information on cheese that is hot off the block as it were and aged as good high quality cheese is meant to be aged. Monforte cheese is sold at farmer's markets and there is a Toronto store location. 1.877.437.5553.
During a Stratford culinary tasting tour purchase a few items for a picnic by the Avon River which flows through the centre of Stratford, and afterwards take in a play in the afternoon at the world famous Stratford Festival Theatre. There are many plays from which to choose. Romeo and Juliet is one of the world's best known theatre productions and plays in Stratford, Ontario until October 19, 2013 at the Festival Theatre.
After enjoying a play, enjoy fine dining at The Parlour, originally a 36 room inn built in 1871. Today, one may enjoy this historic inn overnight as the rooms have been renovated to a luxurious standing. Executive Chef Max Holbrook's culinary creations are just one of the highlights of an adventure in Stratford. The Parlour prides itself on high quality food, service and accommodation that will not break the piggy bank. One of The Parlour's signature desserts is Pavlova served with fresh lemon and raspberry sauce, $12.
Stratford is also known as one of the best towns in which to enjoy Bed and Breakfast accommodation. Most of Stratford's B&Bs are either owned by an award winning chef or have an award winning chef in the kitchen. Owner/Chef Tony and Laura Carter run Dugganplace B&B in the centre of town. Breakfasts are a feast for the eye as well as for the tummy.
Stratford also hosts Savour Stratford in September each year where you'll meet celebrity food authors, chefs, the best of local produce along with international food ideas and music to make any gourmand's palate sing.